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American Fighters 


Place des Etats-Unis, Paris 

^American Fighters 

1914— 1918 


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Yet sought they neither recompense nor praise. 

Nor to be mentioned in another breath 

Than their blue-coated comrades whose great days 

It was their pride to share, ay, share even to the death. 

Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks 

{Seeing they came for honor, not for gain), 

Who, opening to them your glorious ranks, 

Gave them that grand occasion to excel, 

That chance to live the life most free from stain 

And that rare privilege of dying well. 



N"o novel of war or of exotic adventure can compare in 
interest with the plain, true story of the little group of 
American citizens who volunteered to fight for France 
in the early days of the World War and went into the historic 
Foreign Legion. Fiction writers have imagined nothing more 
thrilling and more splendidly heroic than the deeds of some of 
these men, nor can be pictured anything greater or more stir- 
ring than moments that came to them; words cannot describe 
fatigue and hardships and suffering more bitter than they at 
times knew. Nor were romance and humor absent from their 

Looking back over the American volunteers of the Foreign 
Legion a decade after the ending of the terrible struggle in 
which they played their role, they appear as a whole an excep- 
tionally fine lot of men. They came from all walks of life, from 
every stratum of society represented in their broad country; the 
motives that brought them into the service of France were many 
and varied, but most of them had something in common that 
seems unusually fine and precious in this materialistic post-war 
age, an unconscious idealism and simple courage linked with a 
splendid disinterestedness that appears all too rarely nowadays. 

Some of the volunteers stand out especially: Victor Chapman, 
Henry Farnsworth, and Alan Seeger, that great poet of the 
World War, all three idealists of the most lofty type; Kenneth 
Weeks, who felt that in fighting for France he was defending his 
own home and mother; KifBn Rockwell, with his fierce love for 
France and sense of a personal debt to Lafayette and Rocham- 
beau; Dr. David E. Wheeler, who served first as a surgeon in a 
hospital near the front and became so inflamed with rage at 



what he saw and heard there that he simply had to get out and 
fight as a private soldier in the Legion; Ivan Nock, who confided 
to a friend that from the day war was declared his conscience 
kept him filled with shame that an able-bodied man should re- 
main out of the conflict, until it forced him to leave his post in 
the silver mines of Peru and come to face death in France. 

There were Edward Stone and William Thaw, who had en- 
joyed the good things of life in France and could not see the 
country in danger without lending a helping hand; Frederick 
Zinn, who after finishing college came to Europe for a holiday, 
and decided he could best spend it fighting the Germans; Den- 
nis Dowd, who crossed the ocean and joined the Legion because 
a girl refused to marry him, and found happiness in his service 
as a soldier; Earl Fike, who from a sheer liking for mystery en- 
listed in the Legion under the name of John Smith; Russell 
Kelly and Arthur Barry, whose Irish blood would not let them 
stay out of a fight; John Bowe, with the spirit of a true Cru- 
sader; Lawrence Scanlan, with a quiet but indomitable courage; 
Edmond Genet and Edgar Bouligny, drawn by some deep and 
unanalyzed feeling back to the defense of the country their 
forebears had left generations before to become noted in the 
early annals of the United States; Jack Casey, who fought to 
repay France for the hospitality he had received as an art stu- 
dent in Paris; Paul Pavelka and Billy Thorin, sailor lads to 
whom the war was at first just one more adventure and who 
finally felt it to be the greatest and finest adventure of all; 
Alvan Sanborn, to whom age was no handicap; Eugene Jacob, 
the elderly Woonsocket butcher, conspicuous for his intense 
hatred of the Germans; Frank Whitmore and Ferdinand Capde- 
vielle, those splendid and patient soldiers; Christopher Charles, 
who managed to keep his youthful enthusiasm throughout four 
years of hardest warfare; Brooke Bonnell and Joseph Lydon, 
who left legs but not their spirit on the battlefield. And dozens 
of others equally distinguished in one way or another. 



Of the fourscore and ten American volunteers who served 
honorably at the front in France in the ranks of the Foreign 
Legion, thirty-eight were killed in action or died of wounds. 
Most of the survivors were wounded from one to four times. 
Eight were decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor, 
twenty-one with the Medaille Militaire, and fifty-two with the 
Croix de Guerre. The little band of fighters won over one hun- 
dred citations in the Orders of the Day. Six of them became 
officers in the French Army, and ten received commissions in 
the American Army after the United States came into the war; 
two were Lieutenant-Colonels and two Majors at the end of 

One does not need superlatives to write the history of these 
men and of their comrades from many lands. They could re- 
ceive no higher praise than the unembellished recital of their 
deeds. And their story is the whole story of the World War in 

In preparing this work I have consulted the official records of 
the French Ministry of War and of the Foreign Legion; the hun- 
dreds of war letters I received from the American Volunteer 
Legionnaires; my own personal notes and articles contributed 
to the ' Chicago Daily News' and other periodicals, and various 
volumes of letters and memoirs written during the war by the 

I am especially grateful to Mr. and Mrs. William Farns- 
worth, Mr. James E. Kelly, Mr. Charles L. Seeger, Mr. Frederic 
M. Stone, and Mrs. Alice S. Weeks, for the documents, photo- 
graphs, and suggestions they have given me, and I also wish to 
thank Mr. John Jay Chapman and The Macmillan Company 
for their kind permission to quote from the book of 'Victor 
Chapman's Letters from France;' Messrs. Charles Scribner's 
Sons for allowing me to use extracts from the 'War Letters' 
of Alan Seeger and Edmond Charles Clinton Genet; and 
Messrs. Doubleday, Doran and Company for their con- 



sent to quote from James Rogers McConnell's 'Flying for 

A number of books have been published giving the letters and 
notes of American volunteers who fought for France in the For- 
eign Legion during the World War; the best of which are: 

John Bowe: 'A Soldier of the Legion.' Minneapolis, pri- 
vately printed, 191 8. 

Victor Chapman: 'Letters from France.' New York, The 
Macmillan Company, 1917. 

Henry Weston Farnsworth: 'Letters.' Boston, privately 
printed, 1916. 

Edmond Charles Clinton Genet: 'War Letters.' New York, 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1 91 8. 

Russell Kelly: 'Kelly of the Foreign Legion.' New York, 
Mitchell Kennerley, 1917. 

David Wooster King: 'L. M. 8046.' New York, Duffield and 
Company, 1927. 

James Rogers McConnell: 'Flying for France.' New York, 
Doubleday, Page and Company, 1917. 

Kiffin Yates Rockwell: 'War Letters.' New York, Double- 
day, Page and Company, 1925. 

Alan Seeger: 'Letters and Diary'; 'Poems.' New York, 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917. 

Kenneth Weeks: 'A Soldier of the Legion.' London, George 
Allen and Unwin, Limited, 191 6. 

Among the books in French dealing with the Foreign Volun- 
teers of 1 91 4-1 8 may be mentioned the excellent and official 
'Historique du Regiment de Marche de la Legion Etrangere'; 
Albert Erlande's splendid volume: 'En Campagne avec la 
Legion Etrangere,' published in Paris by Payot et Cie., in 1917. 

Edouard Junod: 'Lettres et Souvenirs.' Paris, Georges Cres 
et Cie., 191 8. 



V. Lebedev: 'Souvenirs d'un Volontaire Russe.' Paris, 
Perrin et Cie., 1917. 

Capitaine C. Marabibi: 'Les Garibaldiens de l'Argonne.' 
Paris, Payot et Cie., 1917. 

Paul Ayres Rockwell 

Paris, May 22, igjo. 










ix. 'les hirondelles de la mort* 159 












INDEX 357 




From a photograph by Henri Manuel 






Elov Nihon, Alan Seeger, Dennis Dowd, Ferdinand Capdevielle, Rene Phelizot 

AUGUST 25, I9I4 I4 


Copyright photograph by Paul A. Rockwell 









Kiffin Rockwell, Dennis Dowd, Charles Trinkard 











Tony Paullet, Charles Sweeny, Alan Seeger, Elov Nilson, Robert Percy, George 
Delpeuch, Fred Zinn, Siegfried Narvitz, Bob Scanlon, Dennis Dowd, Jack 
Casey, Paul Pavelka, Ferdinand Capdevielle, Sergeant Terisien 


Joseph Lydon receiving the coveted distinction from a French general 


Elov Nilson, Bob Scanlon, Marias Rocle, Dennis Dowd, Ferdinand Capde- 
vielle, David King 

BER, 1 91 5 

Paul Pavelka, Jack Cordonnier, Frank Musgrave, Bob Scanlon, William E. 



Dugan, Jr., Eugene Jacob, Michael Steinfeh, Marius Rocle, Charles Hojfecker, 
Walter K. Appleton, Jr. 



0. L. McLellan, dean of the American volunteers in the Foreign Legion, and 
Theodore Haas 

exhausted legionnaires sleeping during a ten- 
minutes halt i76 

legionnaires awaiting the order to 'go over the 
top' near belloy-en-santerre, july 4, 1916 176 

one of the legion's battle-front cemeteries 1 82 

Jack Casey, Elov Nilson, Alan Seeger 



James Paul, Paul Rockwell, Jack Casey, Jack Moyet, Arthur Barry 


Arthur Barry, Jack Noe, Henry Claude, Jack Moyct, Frederick W. Zinn, 
James Paul 

TACK OF APRIL 17, I917 224 

Ivan Nock 



Frederick W. Zinn, Adjutant Albanel, Eugene Jacob, Andrew Walbron, Chris- 
topher Charles, Oscar Mouvet, Jack Moyet, William Paringfield, Robert Mul- 
hauser, Guy Agostini, Raoul Lufbery, Paul Rockwell, Willis Haviland, Alger- 
non Sartoris 







Robert Soubiran, Willis Haviland, Kenneth Marr, William Thaw, David 
McK. Peterson 






American Fighters 

American Fighters 

Chapter I 


ar had not even been declared between France and 

Germany in August, 1914, before foreigners began of- 

▼ T fering their services to France incase of hostilities. The 
Italians were the first to act: on the evening of July 31, over 
three thousand of them who were living in Paris met, and, after 
numerous and enthusiastic speeches, voted to form an Italian 
legion to fight for France. 

A group of foreigners of various nationalities residing in Paris 
also got together on July 31, and had published in the Paris 
newspapers of August 1 the following brief appeal: 

The hour is grave. 

Every man worthy of the name should act to-day, should forbid 
himself to remain inactive in the midst of the most formidable 
conflagration history has ever enregistered. 

Any hesitation would be a crime. 

No words, actions. 

Foreigners, friends of France, who during their sojourn in France 
have learned to love and cherish her as a second country, feel an 
imperious need to offer her their arms. 

Intellectuals, students, workmen, able-bodied men of all sorts — ■ 
born elsewhere, domiciled here — we who have found in France spir- 
itual nourishment or material food, we group ourselves together in a 
solid band of volunteers placed in the service of the greatest France. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The proclamation was signed by Canudo, an Italian, Blaise 
Cendrars, a Swiss, both well-known writers, and a score of 
others of various callings and nationalities. 

News of the mobilization of the French Army set foreigners 
all over France aflame with desire to take a part in the hostilities 
every one now realized were inevitable. Following the example 
of the Italians, on August 1 began the enrolment of different 
volunteer corps composed of Alsatians and Lorrainers, Turks, 
Russians and other Slavs, Greeks, followed within the next day 
or two by the Belgians, Hollanders, English, Swiss, Negroes 
from Martinique and Guadeloupe, Poles, Roumanians, Ar- 
menians, and Syrians. 

An appeal was made to Americans on August 5, prominent 
among the signers of which were Rene Phelizot, of Chicago; 
William Thaw, of Pittsburgh; Jules James Bach, of St. Louis 
and Paris; and James Stewart Carstairs, of Philadelphia. 

Nearly every day during that hectic first fortnight of August, 
1914, announcement was made of the formation of new foreign 
volunteer corps, including Spanish, Luxembourgers, Portuguese, 
Brazilians, Czechs, Ruthenians, Croats, Serbs, Slovagnes, 
Slovenes, Mexicans, South Americans, Scandinavians; over 
eight hundred German and Austrian residents of France even 
offered themselves as soldiers against their native lands. 

Where there were only a few men from one country, not 
enough to form a separate corps, they joined with the volunteers 
of some other nation. The 'American Volunteer Corps' espe- 
cially was a veritable Foreign Legion in itself: less than one 
third of its members were authentic American citizens, and 
fully half did not speak English. Among the interesting char- 
acters were Rif Bear, an Egyptian; a brown-skinned little man 
from Ceylon, who was promptly dubbed 'Gunga Din' by the 
Americans; Irishmen and Australians who wanted to fight, but 
did not care to enroll with the English; there were two tall, 
splendid Scandinavians, Baron von Krogh, a Norwegian, and 


In Training 

Elov Nilson, a Swede, who came with the Americans in order 
to perfect their knowledge of the English language. 

In the mean while, some Americans other than those already 
living in France were offering their services to the French Gov- 
ernment. Edgar J. Bouligny, of New Orleans, on August 3 went 
to see the French Consul-General in his home city, and induced 
that official to embark him for France along with a boatload 
of French reservists who had been called to the colors. Bouligny 
was a direct descendant of General Dominique de Bouligny, 
who commanded Napoleon's troops in Louisiana, and who re- 
mained in America after the purchase of the Louisiana Territory 
by Jefferson, becoming the first Senator from the State of Louisi- 
ana to the United States Congress. From infancy Edgar 
Bouligny spoke perfect French. Running away from home at 
the age of fourteen, he had numerous adventures in various 
parts of the world, including such experiences as sailing before 
the mast on tramp vessels, working in the Alaska salmon-pack- 
ing factories, serving in the United States Army in the Philip- 
pines, and prospecting for gold in Mexico. Having many family 
traditions connected with France, Bouligny could not see the 
war occur without desiring to engage in the defense of the land 
of his ancestors. "~ 

Also on August 3, Kiffin and Paul Rockwell wrote from At- 
lanta, Georgia, to the French Consul-General at New Orleans, 
offering to fight for France against Germany. The founder of 
their family in America, William Rockwell, came from England 
in 1630, but they had always been proud of a strain of French 
blood in their veins, coming through French Huguenots who had 
settled in South Carolina after the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, and a French royalist refugee who came to South 
Carolina during the French Revolution. Learning that they 
could secure passage on the American liner Saint Paul sailing 
from New York on August 7, they did not wait for a reply from 
the Consul-General, but embarked for Europe. 


• American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

About the same time, Ferdinand Capdevielle, George Del- 
peuch, and Robert Soubiran, of New York, all three American 
citizens whose families were of French extraction, Dennis Dowd, 
of Brooklyn, and Charles Trinkard, of Ozone Park, New York, 
also set sail for Europe to enlist under the French colors. 


The French Government was quite taken aback and totally 
unprepared for such a spontaneous and whole-hearted move- 
ment of so many thousands of foreigners in favor of France. 
Count Albert de Mun, a leading Deputy, was moved to exclaim 
at a session of the Chamber of Deputies: 'La France a des 
volontaires etrangers, l'Allemagne, elle, a des deserteurs!' 
(France has foreign volunteers, Germany has deserters!) It is a 
striking fact that while hosts of foreigners were offering them- 
selves to France, no such movement was taking place in Ger- 
many, and there is no record of foreign volunteers in the Ger- 
man Army. 

There was no way under existing laws for a foreigner to enter 
the French Army except by signing an enlistment for five years 
in the Foreign Legion, but this difficulty was quickly overcome. 
The' Journal Officiel' of August 8 published the following decree, 
dated August 3, 1914: 

Enlistments of foreigners in the foreign regiments are re- 
ceived for the duration of the war. 

The Minister of War authorized the formation of special 
'marching regiments' of the Foreign Legion to receive the 
volunteers, with a nucleus of veteran Legionnaires brought from 
the Colonies. To avoid encumbering the railway trains, bar- 
racks, and training camps, however, it was decided that no 
enlistments of foreigners for the duration of the war would be 
received before the twentieth day following the mobilization of 
the French Army. 


In Training 

This delay in being allowed to sign formal enlistment papers 
did not cool the enthusiasm and war spirit of the foreign volun- 
teers. Headquarters were established for the various corps by 
their respective committees in different parts of Paris, where 
during the days of waiting new men were continually arriv- 
ing from all corners of the globe. 

The Americans started drilling in the garden of the Palais 
Royal, which during the early days of the French Revolution 
had been so filled with the clamors of the mob and the wild ha- 
rangues of political agitators. Charles Sweeny, of Spokane, 
Washington, a one-time West Point cadet who had been living 
in France for several years, served as instructor. The English 
volunteers drilled at the 'Magic City' amusement park, under 
the orders of C. V. Rapier, a former British officer during the 
Boer War. 

The acceptance of the foreign volunteers into the French 
Army began on August 2i. Marching behind the flags of their 
countries, early in the morning of that historic day the different 
corps went to the Hotel des Invalides, where they were officially 
welcomed by representatives of the French Government and 
Army. The physical examination of the men by French Army 
doctors started at once. The military authorities had at first 
said that this task must be terminated by August 25, so as to 
leave the doctors and examination rooms free for other pur- 
poses, but the foreigners came forward in such thousands that 
this time limit had to be extended. 

Frenchmen who saw the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides 
on August 21 were deeply touched and comforted. Robert de 
Flers, the great writer and member of the French Academy, said 
in a leading article in the Paris 'Figaro' of the next day: 

It seemed that suddenly all the sacrifices, all the devotedness, all the 
heroic and disinterested gestes which have made it said that to write 
the history of generosity one has only to write the history of France, 
all that which Bismarck called our foolish confidence and which we 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

call our point of honor, it seemed that all this received in one instant, 
as an incomparable recompense, this moving homage to which each 
people wished to contribute its part of courage and of blood. 


Training camps for the foreign volunteers had been prepared 
at Rouen, Toulouse, Orleans, Blois, Bayonne, and Avignon, and 
as rapidly as the men were passed by the military doctors, they 
were sent to one of these centers. Men of the same nationality 
were kept together as much as possible. 

The first group of American volunteers to leave Paris en- 
trained for Rouen on the morning of August 25, marching from 
the gathering place at the Palais Royal to the Gare Saint-La- 
zare behind a large United States flag carried by Phelizot and 
Seeger. Huge crowds cheering wildly lined the Avenue de 
l'Opera, the Place de l'Opera, the Rue Auber, and other streets 
through which the volunteers passed. The men were dressed in 
their oldest civilian clothes, and wore almost every shape of 
straw, felt, and derby hats; most of them carried bundles or 
small valises. They had been instructed to encumber them- 
selves as little as possible, and to take with them only their least 
valued possessions. The very unmilitary aspect of the group 
added, if anything, to the enthusiasm of the throngs wishing 
them Godspeed. 

Included among the Americans sent to Rouen were Charles 
Beaumont and Charles Boismaure, of New York; John Jacob 
Casey, of San Francisco; the Charton brothers, John and Louis, 
of New York; Herman Chatkoff, of Brooklyn; Harry C. Collins, 
of Boston; Emil Dufour, of Butler, Pennsylvania; Joseph W. 
Ganson, of New York; Theodore Haas, of Cleveland, Ohio; 
Louis Haeffle, of Buffalo, New York; Bert Hall, of Higginsville, 
Missouri; Charles Hoffecker, of San Francisco; David King, of 
Providence, Rhode Island; Nick Karayinis, of New York; Fred 


In Training 

Landreaux, of New Orleans; Edward Morlae, of San Francisco; 
Thomas F. McAllister, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Jack Noe, 
of Glendale, Long Island; Siegfried Narvitz, of New York; 
Achilles Olinger, of New York; Robert Percy, of New Orleans; 
Tony Paullet, of New York; Bob Scanlon, of Mobile, Alabama; 
Alan Seeger, of New York; Edward Mandell Stone, of Chicago 
and New Bedford, Massachusetts; the Towle brothers, Elling- 
wood and Bertrand, of Larchmount, New York; Rupert Van 
Vorst, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Frederick W. Zinn, of Battle Creek, 

In addition, there were the men already mentioned: Rene 
Phelizot, William Thaw, Jules James Bach, James Stewart 
Carstairs, Edgar John Bouligny, Kiffin Yates and Paul Ayres 
Rockwell, Ferdinand Capdevielle, George Delpeuch, Robert 
Soubiran, Dennis Dowd, Charles Trinkard, and Charles 

The Americans were a most heterogeneous crowd. Many of 
them were living or travelling in Europe when the war broke 
out. Casey and Carstairs were artists, both well known in the 
Paris Latin Quarter. Alan Seeger was a writer whose poetry 
was already becoming favorably known. Bert Hall was a talka- 
tive adventurer of many trades, his latest having been that of 
driving a Paris taxicab. Chatkoff had come abroad following a 
quarrel with his family and becoming stranded in Paris had been 
washing automobiles in a garage before joining the volunteer 

Hoffecker was a mining engineer, and had lately made a long 
stay prospecting in Crete, where he was said to have discovered 
valuable mineral deposits. Ganson's last known profession was 
that of tutor; he had a trend toward religious mysticism and 
writing poetry of a sort. 

Collins was an ex-sailor in the United States Navy, from 
which his comrades suspected him of being a deserter, and had 
been tramping about Europe for some two years. Narvitz had 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

been a professor of philosophy, and Olinger a language in- 
structor at Columbia University. 

Although both Haeffle and Landreaux were born in the 
United States and were American citizens, neither spoke Eng- 
lish. Haeffle was a typical Parisian apache, with the vices and 
qualities of his kind; Landreaux was a mild-mannered actor, 
especially appreciated by theatre-goers in French provincial 

Phelizot was one of the best-known big-game hunters and 
elephant-killers in Africa, where he had lived for years. Morlae 
claimed to have been everywhere and to have done everything. 
He evidently had been many times around the globe as a sailor 
on wind-jammers and other vessels, and had served with the 
United States Army in the Philippine Islands. He gave his 
latest occupation as that of well-digger in California. 

Dowd was a young lawyer, a graduate from the Law School 
of Columbia University, after having taken his A.B. degree at 
Georgetown University. 

Percy and Scanlon were both good Southern Negroes who had 
followed Jack Johnson to France. Percy was a barber by trade, 
and Scanlon a boxer. Tony Paullet, of French-American origin, 
was also known in New York sporting circles as a good light- 
weight boxer. Boismaure was a pharmacist, and Beaumont a 
dry-goods salesman. 

Nick Karayinis emigrated from Greece to America when a 
tiny lad, and had helped his uncle run a fruit-stand under a 
Sixth Avenue Elevated station in New York. His uncle had 
bitterly opposed his coming to Europe to engage in the war. 
Trinkard was a jeweller's engraver; Capdevielle the son of a 
New York fencing-master and employed in a steamship com- 
pany's office before offering his service to France. Delpeuch had 
been assistant to his father, who was chef at the Hotel Lorraine, 
New York. 

Bach was a mechanical engineer, and had spent a good part of 


In Training 

his life in Europe. Stone was for years in the United States 
Diplomatic Service. He was a Harvard graduate; Carstairs, 
Ganson, King, and Seeger had also attended that college. 

Casey had studied at the Mark Hopkins Department of Fine 
Arts of the University of California; the Art Students' League 
in New York; at the Boston Museum and the New York School 
of Fine Arts. He had frequently exhibited his paintings with 
success at expositions in America, and in Paris at the Salon des 
Artistes Francais. 

Thaw, a former Yale student, was one of the first Americans 
to learn to fly an aeroplane. He had flown much in hydroplanes 
along the French Riviera, and his ambition was to get into the 
French Army aviation service. He had offered himself as pilot 
at the outbreak of hostilities, but being refused decided at once 
to enlist in the infantry. 

KifBn Rockwell had been a cadet at the Virginia Military 
Institute, and Paul Rockwell a student at Wake Forest Col- 
lege; both of them had later attended Washington and Lee 
University. Van Vorst had studied medicine at Yale, and was 
en route for a visit to Europe when war was declared. Zinn was 
a member of the 1914 class in civil engineering at the University 
of Michigan, and after graduation had crossed the Atlantic to 
spend the summer touring Europe. The outbreak of hostilities 
caused him to alter his plans, and he became a soldier fighting 
against the country from which his grandparents had emigrated 
to America after the Revolution of 1848. Soubiran was an ex- 
pert mechanic and driver of racing automobiles. 

A number of the volunteers possessed independent fortunes. 
Almost every one of them gave up a good situation with ex- 
cellent promise for the future, to undergo hardships and risks 
for France. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 


The American volunteers sent to Rouen remained there only 
a few days. The Germans were steadily advancing on Paris, 
winning victory after victory, and it looked as if the capital 
must fall. The French Government fled to Bordeaux, and or- 
ders were given to move all concentration points and training 
camps for green troops far away from the danger zone. The two 
thousand foreign volunteers assembled at Rouen were loaded 
onto freight cars on the morning of September i, and, after a 
crowded and uncomfortable ride of four days and nights across 
France, arrived at Toulouse, within sight of the Pyrenees 
Mountains marking the Spanish frontier. 

The volunteers were installed at the Perignon Barracks, in 
the outskirts of the city. They were still in civilian clothes, 
very much bedraggled by this time, and had as yet no military 
equipment of any kind except the indispensable canteen. The 
handful of officers and non-coms in command seemed greatly 
perplexed as to how to handle so motley and unpromising a lot 
of recruits, many of whom did not understand one word of 

The routine of barracks life was established immediately. 
Hot black coffee, already sweetened, was served at dawn, and 
with the liquid one ate any bit of bread that might be left over 
from the previous day's ration. The men were divided into 
squads and sections, and with corporals and sergeants in charge, 
made brisk marches into the country for exercise, returning to 
barracks for a first meal or soupe at ten-thirty. This repast con- 
sisted of a bountiful and usually succulent stew of meat and 
vegetables or rice, ladled out of huge marmites into the out- 
stretched canteens, with cheese, jam, or a piece of fruit or choco- 
late as dessert. Once in a while a tin of sardines was distributed 
for every two men, or the cook made some sort of pudding. The 
day's allowance of half a large loaf of palatable Army bread per 


In Training 

man was always issued just before this first meal. On Sundays, 
a fourth-litre of red wine was served. 

The meal finished, an hour's freedom in barracks was given, 
after which the squads were put to work at cleaning up the 
barracks and grounds, peeling potatoes, and various other 
tasks. Next came drilling and other military instruction in the 
barracks ground, until the second and last meal of the day, 
very much like the first except for a difference in the composi- 
tion of the stew, was served at four-thirty o'clock. 

The men were given liberty to go into the city from five until 
nine o'clock. Those who had money usually dined at one of the 
various restaurants for which Toulouse is celebrated, instead of 
partaking of the evening fare provided at the barracks. All the 
volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to mingle with 
the crowds in the streets and cafes, watching the bulletins out- 
side the newspaper offices, and wandering about exploring the 
highways and byways according to individual tastes. Toulouse 
has many barracks and hospitals, and was crowded with sol- 
diers awaiting orders to go to the front; occasionally there 
would be one who had already been in the fighting and was con- 
valescing from slight wounds. Such a man's tales were always 
listened to with great interest and respect. 


The volunteers had been at Toulouse for about five days 
when they were aroused early in the morning by the sound of 
martial music. Rushing to their windows, they looked out 
across the courtyard upon a thrilling spectacle. Several hun- 
dred veteran Legionnaires of the Second Foreign Regiment, 
freshly arrived from North Africa, were marching through the 
gateway into the Perignon Barracks. Erect and keeping perfect 
step to the music of their famous regimental band, their uni- 
forms of dark blue-gray greatcoats held in around the waist by 

r 3 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

broad blue sashes, white duck trousers, black shoes with short 
black leather leggings, all spotlessly clean and neat, and their 
arms and equipment shining in the morning sunlight like bur- 
nished silver, this first contact with the old-time Legionnaires 
made a striking impression on the untrained, unkempt neo- 
phytes. More than one of the latter suddenly realized with 
pride that at last he was really a member of the most celebrated 
and romantic fighting corps in the world, which had stained 
with its blood four continents, and had won eternal glory by its 
countless acts of heroism. 

The greater part of the history of the Foreign Legion in 
which the volunteers were to serve had been, until the World 
War, the history of the conquest and organization of France's 
Colonial Empire. France has had foreign soldiers in her service 
since she first began to be a nation. History records the Scotch, 
Irish, and Polish Guards, the Lansquenets, the Swiss Guards 
who so nobly defended the Kings of France, the various foreign 
regiments formed by Napoleon the Great, the Hohenlohe Regi- 
ment, among others which at different times in her perilous 
course served France with a devotion and loyalty that raises 
them far above the ordinary mercenary troops. 

The Foreign Legion of modern times was organized by a law 
of March 9, 1831, followed by a royal ordinance of Louis- 
Philippe on March 10. Paris was swarming with Polish refugees 
who had fled their native land after revolutionary activities 
there, and it was primarily to provide an outlet for their restless 
energies and keep them from stirring up trouble in France that 
Louis-Philippe formed the new corps. Algiers had just been 
occupied, and it was decreed that the Foreign Legion should be 
used only for service outside France. 

Companies of the Legion took part in all the expeditions in 
Algeria, conquering, colonizing, and building up the provinces. 
This early page of the Legion's history is full of such accounts 
as that of the heroic defense of the Marabout of Sidi-Moham- 



The four men in line just behind the flag (right) are (left to right): Elov Nilson, Alan 
Seeger, Dennis Dowd, Ferdinand Capdevielle. Rene Phelizot is carrying the large flag: 
he was relieved from time to time by Seeger 


At the Gare St.-Lazare, Paris, to entrain for Rouen, August 2j, 1914 

In Training 

med, where twenty-seven Legionnaires and their lieutenant 
struggled against one thousand Arabs. 

The siege of Milianah was another exploit typical of the 
Legion. Shut up in the town, seven hundred and fifty Legion- 
naires opposed an entire army of Arabs, holding them back for 
four months, until help arrived. When the siege was finally 
raised, two hundred and eight sick and wounded men greeted 
the rescuers. The rest were dead. 

Later, when the northern provinces of Algeria were subdued 
and peaceful, the Legion formed the advance guard for French 
penetration southward. Everywhere, after the work of conquest 
was complete, the Legionnaires laid down their arms and turned 
pioneers. They worked even harder in the colonization than in 
the conquest, building roads and cities almost as if by magic. 
They were by turns farmers, engineers, architects, whatever the 
occasion demanded that they be. Their work in Algeria may 
justly be compared with that of Caesar's legions. Certainly no- 
where else in history is found anything like it. 

During the struggles in Spain from 1835 to 1839 between 
Queen Isabella II and the Carlists, the Legion was loaned to the 
Queen, by a treaty of January 28, 1835, between France, Eng- 
land, Spain, and Portugal, and rendered valiant service to her 
cause. One of the noteworthy episodes of this campaign was the 
defence of the Terapegui Blockhouse, which one thousand 
Legionnaires held successfully against six thousand Carlists 
during an all-day hand-to-hand struggle. 

The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 again called the 
Legion from its cradle, Algeria, and its reputation was still 
further glorified. At the battle of the Alma, when General 
Canrobert was sending officer after officer in a vain effort to 
recall his disorganized troops to order, he happened to see 
a company of the Legion, manoeuvring as calmly as if on 
the exercise field, and he called on the Legionnaires to set the 
example to the other troops, giving them the title by which 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

they have been known since in the French Army, 'la brave 

At Sebastopol and at Inkermann the Legion gave such dis- 
tinguished service that by way of a general recognition, the 
Emperor Napoleon III issued a naturalization en masse to all its 
officers and men who served in the battles. 

In Italy in 1859, at the battles of Magenta and Solferino, the 
Legion won decorations and promotions galore. 

The next campaign of the Legion is of more interest to 
Americans than these first enumerated, for it took place in 
Mexico, during the ill-fated attempt of Maximilian to establish 
a French empire in the New World. If the United States had 
not been so torn and disrupted during the early sixties, such 
names as Cajacca, Santa Ysabel, and Camaron might not ring 
so unfamiliarly in American ears. 

Camaron 1 especially deserves to be rescued from oblivion. 
For unflagging courage in a desperate struggle against over- 
whelming odds, this fight should stand in the front ranks in 
annals of American warfare, alongside such battles as the Alamo 
and Custer's last stand in the Valley of the Big Horn. 

Sixty-two Legionnaires, with three officers, en route to meet 
two convoys coming from Vera Cruz, were surprised in open 
plain by a troop of Mexicans over two thousand in number, at 
dawn on April 30, 1863. Forming a square, the Legionnaires 
fought their way through the assailing hordes to an isolated 
adobe house near the village of Camaron, and barricaded them- 
selves in one of its two rooms, the other being occupied by the 

That the Mexicans might be delayed as long as possible from 
marching on the unsuspecting convoys, the Legionnaires took a 
deliberate oath to defend themselves until death, and actually 
allowed themselves to be killed one by one, taking a large toll of 
Mexicans for each Legionnaire who fell. The enemy, loath to 

1 Also spelled Camerone. 


In Training 

kill such brave men, several times called on them to surrender, 
but each time the proposal was refused. 

For one instant, toward noon, the Legionnaires thought 
themselves saved, when clarion calls were heard in the distance. 
But it was not their regiment arriving to the rescue; it was three 
fresh battalions of Mexicans coming to join the attack. 

The outbuildings around the courtyard of the house were set 
afire late in the afternoon, and the flames and smoke drove the 
few surviving defenders out into the open. All of them fell 
during a bitter bayonet charge; nineteen were picked up badly 
wounded, and the following day a regiment of French soldiers 
arrived on the scene of the terrific struggle and buried the dead. 
The name of Camaron was carved in letters of gold on the walls 
of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, and inscribed on the flag of 
the Legion. 

The Legion's first service in France was during the Franco- 
Prussian War of 1870-71, when it received into its ranks hun- 
dreds of foreign volunteers, among them a young Balkan prince 
who later became the King Pierre I of Serbia, and an American, 
Pierre Chouteau, of St. Louis, Missouri, whose nephew, Charles 
Chouteau Johnson, also of St. Louis, was to enlist in the Legion 
in 191 5. It did brilliant work first with the Army of the Loire, 
then with the Army of the East, and was finally used to wrest 
Paris from the Commune, in 1 871 . 

Sent back to France's foreign possessions, the Legion fought 
with its usual courage and brilliancy in the Soudan, Tonkin, 
Dahomey, Madagascar, and French Indo-China. Concerning 
its work in Dahomey, its commanding officer, General Dodds, 
said: 'The Legion has been marvellous; without it we never 
could have overcome the superhuman resistance of the Daho- 
means. I never have had the honor of commanding more ad- 
mirable soldiers; one can ask anything of them.' 

The Legion had been sent back to Africa in 1895, after finish- 
ing its subduing and constructive work in Madagascar, when in 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

1896 the situation again became critical. The French Govern- 
ment asked General Gallieni, commander of the island, what as- 
sistance he needed to assure French dominion. He replied that 
the troops already with him seemed sufficient to him, but that 
he would like to have ' six hundred men of the Foreign Legion, to 
show the others in the last extremity how to die decently.' 

When the conquest of Morocco began in 1907, the Foreign 
Legion was in the front ranks among the occupation troops. 
Almost all the men who marched into the courtyard of the 
Perignon Barracks in early September, 1914, had participated 
in the ceaseless campaigns against the wild Berber tribes and 
Arabs of what Marshal Lyautey termed 'France's Wild West.' 
Coming to France to face the German invaders, they brought 
with them the spirit that had caused General Deligny to say to 
his soldiers: 'Soldiers of the Legion, the folds of your flag are not 
broad enough to hold all your claims to glory.' J 

Drilling of the volunteers became more strenuous with the 
arrival of the old Legionnaires. Coarse white fatigue uniforms 
were issued that very day, and the men marched to the Tou- 
louse Arsenal, where they were given their rifles and bayonets, 
knapsacks, haversacks, and various other equipment. Any of 
the men already possessing shoes, shirts, underwear, and other 
clothing suitable for army wear were given a cash allowance in 
payment for them, instead of having new articles issued to 
them. Some of the volunteers received tidy sums in this way. 

The squads, sections, and companies were reorganized, vet- 
erans being mixed in with the novices, to aid by example in their 
instruction. Forced marches many miles into the country, or 
along the banks of the river Garonne were made daily, and 
training given in drilling, target-practice, digging trenches, ad- 
vancing under shell and machine-gun fire and protecting one's 


In Training 

self therefrom, tent-pitching, and other exercises necessary to 
the soldier. The men made mock bayonet charges, and jumping 
into trenches stabbed furiously straw-stuffed dummies placed 

The days soon became tiresome and monotonous, however, 
with few incidents to enliven the hours. Often the volunteers 
were too weary from the day's work to go into the city at five 
o'clock, but would go to bed immediately after the evening 
soupe. Money became scarce, and the mails being disorganized, 
more than one man felt the sting of being absolutely penniless 
in a strange land. Thaw, Phelizot, Bach, Carstairs, and one or 
two others had brought along what they thought was an ample 
supply of funds, but it soon ran low through being shared with 
comrades. The wage of a private soldier in the French Army 
and the Foreign Legion was a sou (one cent) a day. Pay-day 
came every ten days, and three of the ten sous due were taken 
out in payment for tobacco distributed at the same time. The 
few non-smokers thought this rather hard on them at first, but 
soon found that they could always dispose of their half-package 
of tabac at a good price. 

A call for volunteers with previous military experience 
under fire, to accompany the veterans to the front, was made on 
September 12. Almost to a man, the Americans stepped for- 
ward, and those who held back were quickly shamed or brow- 
beaten by their comrades into joining them. Each man was 
questioned concerning the campaigns in which he had fought, 
and an astonishing number of South and Central American 
revolutions were mentioned. Chatkoff, always a jester, gravely 
stated that he had served for five years as a soldier of the Salva- 
tion Army. The old Legion non-com taking the information 
had never heard of that corps, and solemnly recorded Chat- 
kofF s declaration in his notebook. Jack Casey, Kiffin and Paul 
Rockwell, Alan Seeger, and Bill Thaw claimed to have been in 
the Mexican Army, and when their corporal commented upon 

l 9 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

their awkwardness at drill informed him that the fighting in 
Mexico was always guerrilla warfare. 

The men accepted for speedy service at the front were in- 
structed to have their heads shaved. Chatkoff, who was very 
proud of his thick, wavy hair, refused to have this done, and 
when his officer called him up about the matter, pretended that 
he was a Red Indian, and that his religion compelled him to 
wear his hair long, so that his enemy might take a scalplock 
should he be killed in battle. Chatkoff was allowed to retain 
his hair. 

Full uniforms were given to the volunteers on September 17, 
similar to those worn by the veteran Legionnaires when they 
arrived from Morocco, except that the white trousers of tropical 
climes were replaced by the regulation red ones of the French 
line regiments. The men now began to feel that they were 
really soldiers. 

Passing the railway station on their way into the city late one 
afternoon, Bouligny, Zinn, and Nilson noticed an excited crowd, 
composed mostly of women and old men, around the doors. 
They went over to see what the trouble was, and their uniforms 
being remarked by a French officer, they were pressed into serv- 
ice to help a small troop of French Territorials protect a newly 
arrived lot of German prisoners from the maddened civilians. 

Rumors of departure for the front became more and more 
frequent. Men of doubtful nationality and loyalty were ordered 
sent to Morocco, where the native tribes were seething with re- 
volt. Two veteran Legionnaires of Teutonic extraction com- 
mitted suicide, because they were included in the detachment 
going back to Africa. One stabbed himself with his bayonet; 
the other shot himself through the head just before dawn. The 
volunteers who were forming ranks in the Barracks courtyard 
preparatory to a hike heard the shot. The desperate fellow had 
evidently managed during target practice to secrete a cartridge 
with which to kill himself. 



Perignon Barracks, Toulouse, September jo, igj j. 


In Training 

No ammunition was issued except at the rifle-range, and a 
strict count of it was kept, all the empty shells being handed 
back to non-coms as each man fired at the target. 

Bouligny was detailed to clean out a dark storeroom in the 
Barracks, and while handling some old blankets felt that his 
hands were wet. When he got out into the light, he found them 
covered with blood; he had picked up the blankets on which one 
of the suicides had lain. 

Thomas McAllister broke his ankle while drilling and was 
invalided out of the Army. The elder Towle, Ellingwood, was 
also discharged from the Legion as medically unfit for service 
at the front. The Legion doctors gave each volunteer another 
thorough physical examination, and it was announced that any 
man who did not want to go to the front had only to say so and 
he would be dismissed from the Army. A number who had en- 
listed, thinking that the war would be short and that they 
would never be used for fighting, but could easily get French 
naturalization papers because of having volunteered, took ad- 
vantage of the offer. These men were given five francs and a 
railway ticket back to Paris or wherever they had enlisted. 

The Americans were especially glad to see go an exceptionally 
dirty red-bearded Turkish Jew, who had been put into their 
room because he spoke a little English and had made it almost 
unbearable by his filth. This man kept a small shop in Paris, 
and openly declared that he had enlisted only because it 'vood 
be good for his bizniss.' He had fallen down in a fit when 
it was first announced that the regiment would be sent to the 

Training that in normal times spread out over six months 
was crammed into less than that many weeks. One thousand 
men of the Second Marching Regiment of the Second Foreign 
Regiment, forming Battalion C, fully equipped and soldierly 
looking, old Legionnaires who had signed up for five years' ser- 
vice and volunteers for the duration of the war, formed ranks 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

in the courtyard of the Perignon Barracks on the morning of 
September 30, ready to entrain for the front. 

Photographs were taken of the regiment and its flag, the 
French tricolor with the motto 'Valeur et Discipline,' and 
the flags of the different volunteer corps. Alongside the flags of 
England, Serbia, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, 
and other countries was the Stars and Stripes of the United 
States of America, borne by Rene Phelizot. The flag had al- 
ready been carried through the streets of Paris, Rouen, and 
Toulouse by men in civilian garb; now it floated over a band of 
American citizens in French uniform and fully armed, ready 
and eager to fight the Germans. The shades of Neutrality must 
have shivered. 

Watched by jealous 'rookies' clad in dirty white fatigue 
suits, and others who were staying behind at the Barracks, the 
battalion swung out of the gates with its band gayly playing, 
and after a hot march through streets lined with cheering but 
sad people, arrived at the railway station and shortly after noon 
climbed into long trains of freight-cars, forty to fifty men in 
each car. After a cramped, cold ride of two days, enlivened by 
the enthusiasm of the crowds at the railway stations every- 
where the train halted, the battalion arrived on October 2, 
early on a foggy, sunless morning, at the Camp de Mailly, in 
the War Zone. 

Chapter II 


Part of the battle of the Marne had been fought around the 
Camp de Mailly, and much of the barracks and near-by 
village destroyed. There was room enough to lodge the 
Legionnaires, however, as the camp was the largest and most 
important in France, with many and modern buildings, and 
over twenty-seven thousand acres of land reserved for military 
manoeuvres. Civilians were beginning to return to the region, 
and many and loud were the lamentations over the destruction 
wrought by the invaders. The mercantis who prey upon soldiers 
around every Army post in the world had already reopened 
their establishments, and the bistros (wine-shops), marchands de 
j rites (fried potato sellers), and cheap restaurants speedily be- 
gan making enough out of the Legionnaires to compensate for 
the losses caused by the Germans. 

Two battalions of the Second Marching Regiment of the 
First Foreign Regiment, composed mostly of veteran Legion- 
naires, and Battalion D, from Orleans, of the Second Foreign 
Regiment, were also at Camp de Mailly. The days, rarely 
brightened by a ray of sunlight, were passed in exercises and 
sham battles in the pine woods around the camp. The under- 
brush was full of relics and wreckage of real battle, cast-off 
French and German haversacks and other equipment, broken 
guns and bent bayonets, unexploded shells, and occasionally a 
dead body, overlooked by the burying parties. The continuous 
rumble of cannon in the distance added to the reality of the 

Dowd and Zinn were part of a wood-gathering corvee outside 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the camp which captured a German soldier who was hiding in 
the scrub pines. Near him lay the body of another German, re- 
cently dead of starvation, and the captured man was too weak 
to offer resistance. He stated that there were at least forty 
other Germans hiding in the woods around the Camp de Mailly, 
there ever since the battle of the Marne, and declared that the 
German officers had told them the French always killed all 
prisoners. He seemed greatly surprised by the kindness with 
which he was treated, and quickly gave away all the buttons on 
his tattered uniform as souvenirs to Legionnaires who crowded 
around him at the camp while he ate ravenously. 

The branch railway line from Chalons-sur-Marne to Mailly- 
le-Camp had been destroyed, and was not yet entirely repaired, 
so it was difficult to bring in enough supplies for the troops. 
Foraging parties marched out into the countryside to try to buy 
potatoes, cabbages, and other vegetables. There was at the 
camp a hospital for wounded horses, and many of them were 
slaughtered for food. 

Body-lice, the soldier's greatest pest, made their appearance. 
Seeger was the first American to get them, and scratched in 
silent and maddened agony, getting little sympathy from his 
comrades, whose sole thought was that he might pass the para- 
sites on to them. 

The first promotions were handed out. Bouligny, Morlae, 
and Sweeny, all speaking good French and with previous mili- 
tary experience, were named corporals. Bach, Capdevielle, 
Phelizot, and Thaw were made first-class privates. Seeger was 
terribly disappointed when the nominations were read out. His 
ambition was to be the best soldier among the volunteers, and 
the equal of any of the old Legionnaires, whom he intensely ad- 
mired. Although not very strong physically, he had given of his 
best since the day of his enlistment. 

Distractions being few around the Camp de Mailly, the 
Americans passed many of their leisure hours playing poker, 


Up to the Front 

with which game they had whiled away the days in the train go- 
ing from Rouen to Toulouse and from Toulouse to Mailly. 
Stakes were low, as no one was rich in ready cash. 

It was announced on October 17 that the regiment would 
start on its march to the trenches the following day. The 
American volunteers all wrote their names in indelible pencil on 
the United States flag which had been with them ever since their 
enlistment in Paris, and confided it to Phelizot, who wrapped it 
around his waist next to his skin. 

Up since four-forty, at six o'clock on the morning of Sunday, 
October 18, two battalions of the First Foreign Regiment and 
two of the Second Foreign Regiment marched out of the Camp 
de Mailly along the eastbound road, toward the sound of the 
cannon. The day was sunny, for a change, and as the men 
tramped along the road which wound up and down the rolling 
hills, they sang. The famous old marching song of the Legion — 

Nous sommes soldats de la Legion, 

La Legion Etrangere; 
Way ant pas de Patrie, 

La France est notre Mere 

('We are soldiers of the Legion, the Foreign Legion; having no 
country, France is our mother') — was the favorite, with 'La 
Made/on' and 'Sous les ponts de Paris' close seconds. 

The way lay through an immense battlefield, lined with new- 
made graves marked with wooden crosses on which hung the 
red kepis (caps) of French soldiers or the spiked helmets of 
Germans, fields and woods battered and scarred by shell-fire, 
and occasionally ruined, blackened villages with gloomy in- 
habitants standing in the streets. It was the Champagne coun- 
try, not yet the fertile region of the vineyards, but the sullen, 
sparsely cultivated part mostly given over to scrub pines, al- 
most the only vegetation that can subsist in the chalky soil. 

The Legionnaires were not depressed by the unsmiling aspect 
of the countryside, nor by the signs of battle. They now knew 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

they were soldiers themselves, and the signs of battle were also 
signs of a great victory won by the French. The enemy had but 
lately fallen back in great disorder along the very route they 
were taking, and they fondly expected soon to force him back 
still farther. 

The first night was spent at Fere-Champenoise, a half- 
burned town, which was reached in the early afternoon, after 
about fifteen miles' march. The Legion always marches for 
fifty minutes, then rests for ten, so the men were not yet overly 
tired, despite the weight of some sixty pounds' pack and equip- 
ment carried. 

Vertus was reached about noon the following day, and quar- 
ters assigned for the night. The inhabitants of the quaint and 
ancient town told the Legionnaires that fifteen thousand 
Frenchmen and twenty-five thousand Germans had been killed 
during the fighting around there and in the near-by marshes of 
Saint-Gond, where the Prussian Guards were cut to pieces by 
troops from North Africa. 

Passing through the city of Epernay, at the western foot of 
Reims Mountain, on the next day, the Legion climbed to the 
old village of Hautvillers, nestling amongst the Champagne 
vineyards, and encamped for the night around the eighteenth- 
century Benedictine Abbey, where over two hundred years 
previously Dom Perignon discovered the method of preparing 
champagne wine. Huge bonfires were lighted, and the volun- 
teers and veterans sat around them singing and spinning yarns 
until far into the night. To-morrow the real front and the 
trenches would be reached. 


Up at four-thirty the morning of Wednesday, October 2,1, and 
off" at daylight, the long columns of Legionnaires toiled pain- 
fully through the vineyards away from Hautvillers and up the 


Up to the Front 

side of Reims Mountain. They were already footsore and 
weary from the three previous days of marching, and before 
many hours had passed, men began falling out of line and rest- 
ing by the wayside. 

Colonel Passard, commander of the Second Foreign Regi- 
ment, who had come up from Morocco with its battalions, rode 
behind the line of march, rounding up the stragglers. He came 
to where Thaw and Carstairs were sitting on a bank by the 

'What are you doing there?' he demanded of the two Ameri- 
cans, reigning in his horse. 

'We are tired out and cannot keep up with the regiment, my 
Colonel,' replied Thaw. 

Colonel Passard drew a large revolver from its holster. 

' MarchezV he roared in a terrible voice. 

Thaw and Carstairs marched. 

In spite of all Passard's efforts, however, it was a frayed and 
sorry-looking regiment that arrived at Verzy shortly after one 
o'clock in the afternoon. The general commanding the Thirty- 
Second Army Corps, to which the Legion brigade had been as- 
signed, was at the edge of Verzy when the Legionnaires marched 
by, and reviewed them with sarcastic eyes. 

'I asked for reinforcements,' he said to Passard. 'Do you 
call those fresh troops?' 

It was announced that the regiment would leave for the 
trenches at nightfall, and the men were distributed around the 
town, quartered in houses, lofts, and barns. Verzy was swarm- 
ing with Colonial troops. Just below the town was the battle- 
line, and machine-gun and rifle fire could be clearly heard; 
occasionally a favorable wind would waft up the sound of the 
voices of officers giving commands. French batteries concealed 
in the woods above the town were exchanging shells with the 
German pieces across the valley below. The smell of powder 
and of war was in the air. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Verzy is about fifteen miles southwest of Reims, situated 
some seven hundred feet above the plain and just below one of 
the highest points of Reims Mountain. The vineyard-covered 
slopes and vast forested plateau of the mountain combine to 
make it one of the strongest natural fortresses in existence, and 
it was the grand corner-stone of the defense of Paris. The Aisne 
and Champagne fronts hinged together there; the line was not 
yet clearly defined, but the Germans seemed to be digging in on 
one side of the little river Vesle and the French on the other. 
The Champagne vineyards which stretched for miles below and 
to each side of Verzy were already criss-crossed with trenches, 
and it was whispered among the Legionnaires that the barbed- 
wire entanglements in front of them were heavily charged with 
electricity, to help hinder the enemy should he attack sud- 

The "order to go to the trenches at dusk was rescinded, and the 
Legionnaires gladly settled down to try to get a good night's 
rest. Most of the Americans were lodged in a huge loft filled 
with hay, and some of them discovered a particularly attractive 
corner behind a partition. They had just got themselves in- 
stalled when Fred Zinn came stumbling into their preserve. 
Zinn was afflicted with a terrible habit of snoring, and was 
therefore greatly dreaded at night by his comrades. They tried 
to drive him away, but even threats with bayonets were of no 
avail. The best they could get was Zinn's promise that they 
might beat him in the face with their hobnailed shoes without 
arousing his anger, if he snored. 

The old Legion non-coms, greatly excited by the arrival at 
the much-discussed front, and having in mind the surprise 
night attacks made by their old Berber and Arab adversaries 
in Morocco, ordered their men to sleep with equipment on and 
rifles strapped to their wrists, so as to be quickly found in the 
dark. The men were also told not to take off their shoes, but 
this order was not complied with. 


Up to the Front 

Despite the hay, the loft was very cold, and the Americans 
were glad to get up four hours after midnight and light a small 
fire downstairs in the courtyard. They formed ranks with the 
rest of their battalion at sunrise, and marched two kilometres 
around the mountain-side to another small Champagne town, 
Verzenay, halting en route by a post which bore a placard stating 
that against it had been shot three traitors, caught signalling to 
the enemy. One was a youthful vineyard worker, who had 
agreed to betray his country for the sum of fifty francs a month. 
With a lantern from the mountain-side he would indicate to 
the Germans across the way the departure of French troops by 
night for the trenches, and losses were heavy from resultant 
machine-gun and artillery fire. 

At Verzenay, the Americans and others of their section took 
up quarters in a stable at the end of the town looking out to- 
ward the battle-lines. They replaced a troop of Senegalese rifle- 
men, and installed themselves on the straw left behind by the 
coal-black warriors. Within a few hours, every one was aware 
that the Africans had left something behind in the straw; the 
entire section was literally devoured by a peculiarly savage and 
aggressive variety of 'cootie.' From then on, the Legionnaires 
struggled with an enemy far more troublesome than Germans, 
cold, or hunger. 

The Americans were now under fire for the first time. The 
Germans shelled Verzenay regularly, but most of the shells 
landed higher up in the town than where they were quartered. 
The Legionnaires were ordered to remain indoors most of the 
time during the day. Enemy aeroplanes flew low overhead fre- 
quently, observing and regulating artillery fire, and the Legion- 
naires would crowd into the courtyards and fire useless volleys 
at them. Some of the men swore they saw German airmen lean 
forward and wave derisively at them. 

At night, a battalion of the First Foreign Regiment went 
down into the trenches, while men of the Second did guard 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

duty around the town, especially watching out for spies signal- 
ling to the enemy. The panorama from in front of the building 
occupied by the Americans was wonderful. The battlefield 
could be seen for miles and miles: to the left, almost to Reims, 
and to the right, stretching away as far as the eye could reach 
toward the Argonne. Flashes from rifles and machine guns 
twinkled up and down the valley like intermittent fireflies, 
while less frequently came the lights from bellowing cannon and 
exploding shell. Very lights and star rockets cast an unearthly 
glare over the scene from time to time. Veteran officers and 
men, bemedalled from Colonial wars, watched the spectacle 
with as eager an interest as the greenest volunteer. 

Indoors, conditions were not so thrilling, especially in the 
stable occupied by the Americans. There was no window, and 
next to the only door were several old Legionnaires, who on no 
condition would allow it to remain open longer than necessary 
for entrance or exit. The air was thick and close, and foul with 
a hundred odors, and the men were packed in so tightly that 
there was hardly room to turn over when lying down. To add to 
that, the stalls in which they lay were very short, painfully so 
for the taller members of the company. And the lice were even 
more famished by night than by day. 

The following day, the battalion climbed up to the mountain- 
top, and marched across a swampy part of the plateau to a point 
from which was had a marvellous view of Reims and the sur- 
rounding battle-sector. Shells were breaking over the city and 
cathedral, and across the Aisne Canal and river Vesle stood 
forth the forts and heights from which the German artillery was 

A long contemplation of the scene was prevented by the ap- 
pearance of German aeroplanes, and the Legionnaires scattered 
into the underbrush like chickens seeking shelter from a hawk. 
When the aeroplanes passed on, they cut firewood until each 
man was sufficiently laden, and marched back to Verzenay. 


Up to the Front 


A strange sight at Verzenay were the grape-gatherers, of 
whom several hundred were assembled in the town for the vin- 
tage, then in full swing. Most of them were girls and women of 
all ages, but there were a few boys and old men. Heedless of 
shells and bullets, these people spent the days picking grapes in 
the vineyards between and about the battle-lines. They were 
quartered in stables and lofts, much like the Legionnaires, and 
made merry at night with song and dancing. Some of the old 
Legionnaires managed to gain admittance to their quarters, and 
joined in the festivities. Some amazing stories were told about 
the welcome given the veterans by the younger women. 

The stay at Verzenay was short. On October 25, it was an- 
nounced that the Second Foreign Regiment would leave the 
next morning for an unknown destination, the First Regiment 
remaining behind in the Champagne sector. The men were told 
to lighten their packs, and to discard everything that was not 
absolutely essential. 

The regiment was up before the sun; most of the men climbed 
into motor-busses and rattled off toward the north. The Ninth 
Squad was detailed to act as guard for the mule-drawn convoy 
of supply wagons. 

The Ninth Squad was composed of the tallest men in Battal- 
ion C of the Second Foreign Regiment: Ferdinand Capdevielle, 
Stewart Carstairs, Harry Collins, Dennis Dowd, Kiffin and 
Paul Rockwell, Alan Seeger, and William Thaw; two English 
volunteers, Booth and Buchanan; Krogh, the Norwegian, and 
Nilson, the Swede; Hubmajer, a twenty-four-year-old Serb, al- 
ready covered with scars from numerous Balkan wars and raids; 
Pierre, an old Legionnaire of French nationality; and, as chief, 
a German from Saxony, Corporal Weidemann. 

Weidemann had been in the Legion for sixteen years, and be- 
fore that had served in the German Army, which he had left for 

3 1 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

reasons known only to himself. He was a perfect soldier, and as 
such despised the inexperienced volunteers. He often made 
bitter remarks at having been given such a raw lot of men to 
lead, but he worked his hardest to turn his volunteers into 
soldiers. Stern and scornful as he habitually was, he could be as 
tender as a mother over the bruises and blisters of his men, and 
tried hard to keep them in perfect physical condition. He fre- 
quently remarked, in very bad Legion French: 'You have good 
will, but you will never make good soldiers'; or, 'The Germans 
will win the war, but I have given my word to France, and will 
keep it.' 

Most of the unpleasant corvees (tasks) fell to the lot of the 
Ninth Squad. First, its men were the tallest, and therefore 
usually the first noticed. Worse still, its corporal was heartily 
detested by Terisien, the sergeant in charge of the section of 
which the Ninth was one of the four squads, and fatigue duty 
was passed on to him as often as possible. Terisien was an 
irascible little Breton, a one-time lieutenant in the French 
Navy, from which he had been cashiered because of a hasty 
blow given a fellow officer; he had buried himself in the Le- 
gion to try to regain his rank. 

Terisien was cordially hated by Pasqualaggi, the adjudant of 
the company composed of his section and three others, and 
Pasqualaggi put all the corvees possible on to Terisien and his 
section. In the French Army, the adjudant is the highest rank- 
ing non-commissioned officer, and usually takes the orders from 
the company captain and passes them on to the sergeants. He 
can make things very uncomfortable for any non-com he does 
not happen to like. Pasqualaggi was a Corsican; Legion gossip 
had it that he was formerly a shepherd who had killed an enemy 
in a duel with knives, and afterwards had fled to the Legion to 
escape the vendetta sworn by his victim's family. 

So, the order passed on down from one non-com to another, 
it fell to the lot of the Ninth Squad to act as garde de convoi on 

3 2 


Spared by the shells, which fell all around it 

Up to the Front 

October 26. Corporal Weidemann lined up his men at the edge 
of Verzenay at four-thirty in the morning. Something was 
wrong with the kitchen supplies, and no rations were issued ex- 
cept a half-cup of almost-cold, strong, black coffee per man. 
Then the grumbling squad fell in behind the long line of wagons 
and carts, and set out along the vineyard-lined highway. Just 
outside Verzenay, the men remarked a weather-beaten, gaunt, 
wooden windmill, standing boldly out on the hillside looking 
over the lines, and wondered why so splendid an observation 
post had not already been destroyed by German shells, for 
which it was an ideal target. 

Fortunately, the day was sunny, and there was plenty of 
color and interest along the route, which swung almost in a 
semicircle around Reims. Part of the doomed city was in flames, 
and it seemed as if the Cathedral, looming majestically over the 
housetops, was being struck by shells. Aeroplanes, friendly and 
enemy, flew overhead, and occasionally a shell screamed by. 
The Moroccan Division was holding the sector, and the bril- 
liant uniforms of the Zouaves and native riflemen from North- 
ern Africa added to the picturesqueness of the scene. 

All this excitement kept fatigue away for hours, but when 
two o'clock in the afternoon came and no halt had been made 
for lunch — the squad and supply train paused every fifty 
minutes for the regulation ten-minute rest — the men began to 
complain. Grumbling was useless, however: the corporal had 
his orders, which were to follow the convoy. No bread had been 
issued; a few of the men had bits left from the previous day's 
ration, and munched at that. 

A mule-driver started the rumor that Fismes was the de- 
stination of the regiment, and that the convoy and its guard 
would also rest there for the night. The march continued; at 
one of the hourly halts a woman brought out a pail of newly 
made wine, and gave the men cupfuls of it. Dusk came, and all 
the men of the Ninth Squad were footsore and weary. Even the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

corporal, who had scoffed at his volunteers earlier in the day, 
lagged silently behind with a blistered foot. Catching up with 
the others at a halt, he lost his detached attitude, and finally ad- 
mitted that he did not know where a stop for the night would be 
made, but stated that he hoped to get orders at Fismes. 

Fismes was reached shortly after dark. No one in the bat- 
tered, troop-filled town had seen or heard anything of the 
Second Foreign Regiment, but finally, a dispatch-bearing cyclist 
appeared with orders, and the convoy and guard sullenly 
crossed the bridge over the Vesle in the middle of the town, and 
doggedly set forth up the hill toward the Aisne battlefields. By 
now the mules themselves could hardly walk, and their drivers 
were swearing as vociferously as their exhausted condition 
would allow. The men of the Ninth Squad were so sodden in 
misery that they could not complain, but staggered on auto- 
matically in a sort of daze. Every twenty minutes, ten-minute 
halts were made, and the men threw themselves down and slept 
on rock piles or anything else at hand to keep them out of the 

About eleven o'clock at night, a real halt was called, on a cold, 
soggy, wind-swept plateau, so near the lines that orders given 
their men by the French officers in the trenches were distinctly 
heard. A steady rifle and machine-gun fire was going on. Dowd, 
Kiffin Rockwell, and Seeger, who seemed the least-wearied men 
of the outfit, were called off by the corporal and posted on 
guard; their comrades threw themselves down and slept. 

The Ninth Squad had marched fifty-six kilometres on almost 
empty stomachs, carrying a heavy load of rifles, cartridges, and 
other equipment — the longest march made by a band of 
Legionnaires in France during the World War. 

A little after four o'clock the next morning, the convoy and 
guard again set forward, and a few hours later stumbled into 
the tiny hamlet of Cuiry-les-Chaudardes, where the rest of the 
regiment had been awaiting them since the previous afternoon. 


Up to the Front 


The Germans were vigorously bombarding Cuiry-les-Chau- 
dardes, but most of the shells fell short in a field just outside the 
village. The regiment sprawled all over the place, which seemed 
much too small for it. Terisien's section, including most of the 
American volunteers, was quartered in the loft and the out- 
buildings of a large farmhouse, where the men made themselves 
as comfortable as possible in the hay and straw, Bouligny and 
Stone had been put in a machine-gun company; Sweeny was the 
colonel's cyclist; and Van Vorst, because of his medical train- 
ing, was assistant to the battalion's doctor 

A day and a night of rest, and then a morning review of the 
regiment by the general commanding the Thirty-Sixth Division, 
of which it was now a part. The Legionnaires were given an ex- 
tra good and abundant soupe, and the afternoon was spent in 
cutting wood for the kitchens and in cleaning arms and equip- 

When darkness began to fall, the sections lined up in the road 
in front of the houses that had sheltered them, each man with 
his sixty-odd pounds of equipment strapped on his shoulders. 
As it was to be the regiment's first expei snce in the trenches, 
the sergeants and corporals of each sectioi gave their men a few 
words of advice, cautioning against smoking or talking en route 
to the lines, and telling each man to make sure that his gamelle 
(canteen), bidon (water-bottle), bayonet, etc., were so fastened 
that they could not rattle or come loose. Then the Legionnaires 
were off", by columns of four, along a newly made military road, 
deeply rutted and mired by the hundreds of artillery caissons, 
provision and ammunition wagons, pack-mules and horses that 
had passed that way. 

For perhaps a kilometre the way ran through sugarbeet fields, 
then it dipped into a wooded marsh. The trees were thick and 
the road chopped through was so narrow that the tree-tops in- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

terlacing overhead shut out all light, except here and there 
stray beams from a watery moon. The line of marching men 
changed to single file, and silently ploughed along through the 
sodden road, heavy with a recent rain. 

The marching column skirted the base of a steep hill. Occa- 
sionally an illuminating shell burst high in the sky above, light- 
ing up the scene with an unearthly and dazzling glare. But for a 
few seconds only, then the light died down and all was darker 
than ever. 

A rifle was fired across the hill, then another and another. 
Quickly the fusillade became general; the sharp rat-rat — rat- 
rat of machine guns was added to the medley of sounds; a light 
breeze wafted over. Men were shouting loudly. The command, 
'Feu a volonteV and a confusion of voices were heard. 

The Legionnaires marched on. The firing and the shouting 
died down as suddenly as they had arisen, leaving only the usual 
night noises. The crest of a little hill was reached, and a short 
halt was made. 

'Sac au dosV and the men were off again. The road im- 
proved, and the pale moon showed a level stretch of compara- 
tively open country. The Legionnaires filed past the half-de- 
stroyed Chateau du Blanc-Sablon, where Colonel Passard and 
his staff were lined up to watch them go by. Finally there was 
reached the foot of a hill, whose wood-fringed crest sheltered 
the trenches the regiment was making for. The hill overlooked 
the ruined village of Craonnelle, in and beyond which were en- 
trenched the enemy, who constantly swept the countryside 
with searchlights installed on the heights above. Hidden by the 
hill, the Legionnaires halted, while the French line infantrymen 
they were to relieve crept out of their holes in the ground, 
slipped silently down the slope, and started toward the rear and 
a well-earned repose. All was done with the quiet swiftness of a 

Along barely traced, shallow communication trenches, the 



Winter of IQ14-15 


Left to right: Kiffin Rockwell, Dennis Dozsd, Charles Trinkard 

Up to the Front 

Legionnaires hurried up the hill, ranged themselves beside the 
rude dugouts, which alternated with the combat trenches, and 
crawled one by one into the cave-like entrances. The German 
searchlights played upon the position, a few shells whined over- 
head. The Legionnaires settled themselves as they could, un- 
strapped their packs, and placed their rifles handy. 

The American volunteers and their comrades were in the 

Chapter III 


Trench warfare was still in its infancy, and the line 
held by the Legionnaires had been hastily and poorly 
made. British troops had been there first, then French 
line infantrymen belonging to the Thirty-Fourth and Two 
Hundred and Eighteenth Regiments. The trenches and bomb- 
proof shelters were shallow and narrow, and the Legionnaires, 
worn out by their long, heavily laden hike from Cuiry-les- 
Chaudardes, passed a weary and cramped first night in the 
firing line. 

The men were not long in realizing that the present war was 
different from anything the old Legionnaires had known in the 
French Colonies, and unlike what the volunteers had been 
taught at the training camps to expect. The German artillery 
kept up a steady if not intense bombardment. The very first 
morning in the trenches, Charles Trinkard and Paul Rockwell 
sat in the sunshine cleaning their rifles, while a young Belgian 
volunteer sat on the bank behind them, arranging the contents 
of his pack as he dangled his legs in the trench. Suddenly 
Trinkard shouted, 'Homme blesse!' (man wounded). Rockwell 
looked around, but at first noticed no one injured, until he saw 
the little Belgian's legs stiffening. The youth had been struck in 
the head by a shrapnel ball or machine-gun bullet, and had 
toppled over without a cry. 

The same day about noon, Phelizot, David King, and a 
veteran Spanish Legionnaire, who were occupying a small dug- 
out together, started to leave their shelter. The Spaniard was 
the first to climb out the tiny entrance; he fell back dead 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

into the arms of his American comrades, shot through his 

The kitchens of the battalion were installed in the forest a few- 
hundred yards downhill behind the trenches. A German aero- 
plane flying over the lines soon spotted them, and signalled their 
location back to the enemy batteries. When the soupe corvee 
went down from the trenches to fetch the evening meal, they 
found the place a veritable shambles. The enemy gunners had 
chosen the hour when the cooks were busy preparing the food to 
start a vigorous bombardment of the kitchens. Having the exact 
range, the shells fell true to their mark, and fourteen men were 
killed and some thirty wounded. Fred Zinn had been detailed 
by Weidemann as kitchen helper, and never understood how he 
escaped the bursting shells and shrapnel. 

The men in the trenches ate cold reserve rations that evening, 
or nothing at all. The kitchens were moved a good two miles 
back into the swampy woods, which made a painful task for the 
soupe corvees — usually the Ninth Squad for its section — and 
gave cold food to the Legionnaires in the front lines. 

The worst shelling of the day was always just at supper time, 
but the hail of shell fragments and shrapnel never hindered old 
Corporal Weidemann in his distribution of soupe to his men. 
Heedless of the bombardment, he went from dugout to dugout, 
ladling out the food as calmly as if he were still at the Perignon 

The men worked steadily at improving and strengthening 
their position. Trenches were widened and deepened, and new 
lines dug, and at night logs were fetched up and piled over the 
shelters, then covered with earth and brush. Barbed-wire en- 
tanglements were placed in front of the trenches, and the lines 
consolidated right and left. 

The ruins of Craonnelle lay downhill a little way in front of 
the Legion's trenches, and the Germans were entrenched in the 
village and beyond, along the Chemin des Dames and the Cra- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

onne Plateau. Hundreds of dead French, British, and German 
soldiers lay unburied between the lines throughout the sector, 
and the Americans spent hours speculating on what the region 
would smell like when spring brought sunshine and thaws. 

Patrols and scouting parties from both armies went out be- 
tween the lines nightly, and often on foggy days, and encounters 
were frequent. Pasqualaggi, the noisy little Corsican adjudant, 
was gravely wounded during one of the first of these brushes. 
He went out into a wooded part of No-Man's-Land on an un- 
usually foggy morning, accompanied by a sergeant and a hand- 
ful of men. Shots were exchanged with a German patrol, and 
Pasqualaggi was brought back into his lines with a bullet 
through his body. He was very unpopular in the Legion, and it 
was whispered that one of his own men had taken advantage of 
the encounter with the enemy to shoot him. It was impossible 
to verify such a rumor. 

Another patrol passed at night behind the German outposts 
at Craonnelle, and reached the first houses of Craonne, some 
distance beyond. The Legionnaires were fourteen in number, in- 
cluding a veteran adjudant, and an English volunteer, Sergeant 
Burckley. Suddenly came the cry, 'Halt: Wer daV A German 
patrol some twenty strong was approaching. The Legionnaires 
halted, while one of their number, an Alsatian, called out to the 
enemy in German. The latter approached, and the Legion- 
naires sprang upon them with the naked bayonet, killing and 
wounding several. Burckley knocked one of them down, picked 
him up, and carried him prisoner into the French lines. 

Sergeant Terisien was on guard at night between the lines 
with several men of his section. Sounds of crashing underbrush 
were heard: an enemy patrol was surely approaching. 'Hold 
your fire until we can see them,' whispered the sergeant. A tense 
wait, and then the enemy came into view, dimly outlined in the 
moonlight. 'Feu h volonteT shouted Terisien, and well-nour- 
ished volleys greeted the enemy, who broke and fled noisily. 



Cleanliness is one of the great virtues of the Legionnaire 


The first American citizen wounded in the IVorld War 
The American 'ace' of the Foreign Legion 

The First Winter in the Trenches 

It was discovered the next morning that the 'enemy' had 
been a few abandoned cows, wandering between the lines. Some 
of them lay dead or wounded near the scene of the encounter. 
The Legionnaires ate fresh beef, and the trenches around were 
thenceforth dubbed l Les Tranchees des V aches' (the Cows' 

The first casualty among the American volunteers occurred 
during a skirmish between patrols. Corporal Bouligny went on 
the night of November 15 to occupy the Craonnelle cemetery, 
with a small band of men. A strong German outpost was al- 
ready installed around the mausoleum erected to Napoleon's 
soldiers who fell at the battle of Craonne in 1814, and Bouligny's 
squad attacked it. During the fray Bouligny was shot through 
the fleshy part of the knee. He remained with his men until the 
cemetery was captured, then went back to a dressing-post, and 
was sent to a hospital. His wound was fortunately a clean one, 
and he was back with his battalion in less than five weeks. 

Charles Beaumont was wounded in the heel by a shrapnel ball 
during a bombardment on November 29. The wound became 
infected, and after months in hospital he was invalided out of 
the Legion. 

The cold became bitter, and there was much suffering in the 
trenches. The battalions usually stayed four days in the front 
lines, six days in reserve trenches, then four days at Cuiry-les- 
Chaudardes. Life was pretty much the same, wherever they 
were, except that the food and coffee were always cold by the 
time they reached the front-line trenches, and casualties were 
greater from shell-fire back behind the lines. The men gradually 
adjusted themselves to the life, and invented various means of 
keeping themselves fairly warm and comfortable at times. They 
burrowed deeper and deeper into the earth, and outfitted their 
dugouts with varied articles picked up in demolished houses. 

The mail and parcels-post service became well organized, and 
letters and packages were distributed daily, even in the front- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

line trenches. Much amusement was created among the Ameri- 
cans when one youth read a letter from his father, telling him to 
'immediately resign his position with the French Army and 
come home.' The father was a captain in the New York Seventh 
Regiment, and as his son was a minor, had sent him to France 
with a written permission to enlist in the French Army, seem- 
ingly with the idea that he would learn French military tactics, 
but never be sent to the front. 

Harry Collins stripped himself naked in a first-line trench one 
night, despite the freezing cold, grabbed his bayonet and swore 
he would kill any man who approached him. He then picked up 
his clothes and ran away into the woods. 

Fred Zinn went to the battalion infirmary at Cuiry-les- 
Chaudardes a few days later, to get some anti-lice ointment, as 
the ravenous parasites were driving the volunteers mad. He 
discovered Collins at the infirmary; the gendarmes had caught 
the latter trying to escape from the War Zone, and had brought 
him back to his regiment. Collins pretended to be insane, and 
was put under doctors' observation. Collins called Zinn over to 
his bed and said: 'Tell the boys I'm not crazy. I've had all I 
want of this show, got all the glory I'm after, and I'm going to 
get out.' 

While at Toulouse, Collins had had his photograph taken as 
soon as he got into uniform, and mailed copies back to various 
Boston newspapers with letters to the effect that 'This is the 
photograph of Harry Cushing Collins, the Boston boy and Har- 
vard graduate who organized a corps of mounted American 
Rough-Riders, and is now leading his gallant men into action 
across the battlefields of the Marne.' Some of the newspapers, 
glad to get a good story, did not take time to verify whether or 
not there ever had been a Harry Cushing Collins on the rolls of 
Harvard College or a corps of mounted American Rough-Riders 
fighting in France, but printed Collins's picture and letter. 
Clippings of the articles reached him the very day the regiment 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

first arrived at Cuiry-les-Chaudardes, and so filled him with 
pride that he could not resist showing them to his comrades, 
who thenceforth avoided him even more carefully than before. 

The Legion doctors had coped with harder cases than Collins, 
and his feigning insanity did not deceive them. After watching 
him for a few days, he was sent to the disciplinary battalion in 
Northern Africa. 


William Thaw had been hoping all along to be transferred to 
the Aviation Service of the French Army, and his desire was still 
further aroused when in late November the American volunteers 
witnessed from their trenches one of the very first aeroplane 
combats. A French aeroplane attacked a German biplane over 
the sector held by the Legion, and after a heated exchange of 
machine-gun fire, the German aeroplane crashed to earth near 
Vailly, on the river Aisne. 

The Legionnaires had seen aeroplanes fly over their heads 
ever since their arrival at the front, had often seen them shelled 
by anti-aircraft batteries, and had fired upon them themselves, 
but this was the first time they had seen two aeroplanes fight. 
At the beginning of the war, aeroplanes were unarmed. Then 
the fliers began carrying carbines, and would exchange shots as 
they passed each other in the air. Now machine-guns were 
mounted on some of the aeroplanes. Aerial warfare was begin- 

Thaw knew Lieutenant Brocard, who commanded the esca- 
drille that patrolled the air in the sector held by the Legion. 
Much as he hated any unnecessary exertion, the first time his 
company was au repos at Cuiry-les-Chaudardes after the French 
aerial victory, Thaw hiked thirty-two kilometres over to Bro- 
card's aviation field, and pleaded with such ardor to become an 
aviator that, on December 24, the order came for him to leave 
the Legion and enter the Aviation. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

There was already one American citizen in the French Army- 
Aviation, Gervais Raoul Lufbery, of Wallingford, Connecticut. 
Lufbery had marched over to the Hotel des Invalides in Paris 
with the other American volunteers on August 21, but due to 
the efforts of his close friend, the great French airman Marc 
Pourpe, transferred to the Aviation the day after enlisting in the 
Legion, and went immediately to the front as Pourpe's aero- 
plane mechanic. William Thaw, however, was the first experi- 
enced American aviator to enter the French Army Aviation. 
Jimmie Bach and Bert Hall left the Legion about the same time 
as Thaw to learn to fly. When Hall first arrived at the aviation 
field, he claimed to be already an experienced pilot. The com- 
mander of the field ordered an aeroplane brought out of its 
hangar, and asked Hall to give an exhibition of his flying. Bert 
was determined to get out of the cold, lousy trenches, so, noth- 
ing daunted, he climbed into the machine, and headed it across 
the field. The aeroplane crashed into a building, and was 
wrecked, but Hall escaped uninjured. 

'You don't know anything about flying,' commented the 
French commander, 'but I think you can learn.' 

Thaw's chief regret on leaving the Legion was having to 
sacrifice his beard. All the Legionnaires had gone unshaved so 
long that they had all the hair on their faces that could grow 
there, and Thaw had a splendid beard which made him the liv- 
ing image of Henry VIII. 

The first Christmas of the war found the American Legion- 
naires in the reserve trenches. Parcels arrived from Americans 
in Paris, containing all kinds of woollen goods, such as gloves, 
socks, knitted helmets, mufflers, and other things. Dr. Van 
Vorst received a large Virginia ham, which he presented to his 
comrades. The Legionnaires were supposed to spend Christmas 
Day exactly as they spent other days when in the reserve lines, 
digging new trenches and fortifying the dugouts. Most of the 
Americans played truant, however. They slipped off to a farm- 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

house, had a peasant woman cook Van Vorst's ham, and spent 
the day eating, drinking coffee and rum, and talking. 

Alan Seeger, ever an individualist, had a solitary Christmas, 
which he described in his diary: 

'Spent a unique and agreeable kind of Christmas in Cuiry, 
brightened by thoughtful friends in Paris, who sent us all pack- 
ages laden with everything good to eat and wear. Christmas 
Day itself was one of the most beautiful of cold winter days. 
Rose early and walked up to the farm over the frost-whitened 
hillside. Hot coffee and bread. Beauty of dawn, white land- 
scape and steaming village. Pleasure of opening packages and 
reading letters in the hayloft. After morning soup, rassemble- 
ment and march off to work. But I played truant again and slip- 
ping off with gun slung over shoulder walked alone (not without 
considerable risk) to Beaurieux. The soldier to whom I had 
given my wash the week before had been moved to Beaurieux, 
and as it was absolutely necessary to have the change of cloth- 
ing, I had to be so far unscrupulous. Beautiful walk through the 
sunny fields. Accomplished object in Beaurieux and enjoyed 
walking about town, buying the few little things that were to be 
bought and talking to soldiers of other regiments. Home at sun- 
down. Heated plum-pudding and made hot chocolate after 
supper and stayed up late talking in candle-lit loft.' 


Shortly after Christmas occurred one of the most exciting 
episodes in the history of the Foreign Legion during the entire 
World War. Kiffin Rockwell told of it in a letter to his sister: 

"January 7, 191 5 

'Dear Agnes: 

I have had practically no sleep for the last eighty hours, but I 
can't sleep now, so will write you and try to keep my mind oc- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'I spent the holidays fairly quietly, came out of the trenches 
New Year's Eve. New Year's Day we were marched ten kilo- 
metres to the rear and given the first bath the army had given us 
for three months. The next day we were inoculated for typhoid. 
The next two days our arms were a little sore and we were more 
or less feverish; so we got two days' rest — the first since being 
in the army. 

'On the night of the 4th, almost midnight, we started to where 
I now am. This is a village that I should say probably had five 
thousand inhabitants before the war and it has been fought over 
quite a bit, the Germans having lost two thousand killed in a 
night attack on it in the early part of the war. There is not now 
a building that has not been demolished by shells. 

'The march here was through swamps and it was dark and 
rainy, so it took us about three hours to get here. We marched 
quietly through the streets and my section was sent to the 
sector nearest the enemy, in the fine park of a beautiful chateau. 
When we got to the ruined chateau we relieved the section there 
that had been staying in the basement, it being intact. While 
the relief was going on, the Ninth Squad (the one I am in) was 
called off by the sergeant as petit poste. We went through the 
park about one hundred yards and came to a wall like those 
built around castles in medieval times. There were nine of us 
and our corporal (our number in camp was fifteen). Four of us 
were stationed at different points along the wall as sentries, 
while the others went down to the station for the petit poste. 

'At my position a shell had blown a hole through the wall. 
This hole had a door, propped against it by a ladder, a small 
opening being left at each side, from which I could watch in the 
direction of the enemy. Once in a while I would crawl up the 
ladder and look over the wall. 

' I was stationed there at about four o'clock. At seven o'clock, 
when it was getting light, the corporal came and told me to go 
back to the chateau for food for us, which I did. There, I met 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

one of the other guards, and we got the food and started back 
with it. As we came out of the woods towards the wall, we saw 
that we were exposed to fire from three directions and that the 
German trenches were quite near the wall. About that time 
bullets began to "whizz" and we "ducked" and ran to the wall 
and then along the side of it about two hundred yards to the 
petit poste. All that day we crouched in little dugouts and cursed 
our officers for putting us in such a death-trap without more 
men and without telling us the real situation. At nightfall, we 
were stationed in such a way that four of us had to watch a wall 
practically one half mile long, right under the nose of the enemy, 
with hundreds of men in the rear of us subject to an attack. The 
poste was two hours on and two hours off, with no man to close 
his eyes, and the understanding that we would be relieved at six 
the next morning. 

'At ten-thirty p.m., I was standing at the door mentioned 
above when the communication sentinel came up to me. Just as 
he started to speak, something fell at my feet and sputtered a 
little and then went out. We each said: "What's that?" I 
reached down and picked it up, when the other sentinel said: 
"Good God! It's a hand grenade!" I threw it away and we 
both jumped to attention, asking each other what to do, and 
finally decided for Seeger (the other sentry) to go to the petit 
poste for the corporal, while I watched. Just as he and the cor- 
poral came running up, the corporal called, " Garde a vous, 
Rockwell," and another grenade fell at my feet. I jumped over 
the ladder toward the corporal and as I reached his side the 
bomb exploded. We both called out 11 Aux armes!" We had no 
more than done this, when the door gave in and a raiding party 
entered the side of the opening. The corporal and I both were in 
an open position at their mercy, so we turned and jumped to- 
ward cover. I went about ten feet when rifles flashed and I 
dropped to the ground. When I dropped, the corporal fell be- 
side me and I knew by his fall that he was dead. I crouched and 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ran, the bullets whizzing by me, but I made it to the woods. In 
the mean time the five men left at the poste jumped over to their 
positions. When they did, the Germans in the trenches, at the 
door in the wall, and others who had managed to slip over the 
wall at some unprotected point, opened fire on them. Two were 
slightly wounded and another's rifle was shattered by a bullet. 
They immediately dropped flat on the ground and lay there, 
afraid to fire, as most of the fire was coming from the direction 
in which they expected reinforcements, and in which they knew 
we sentries were. I lay in the woods and watched, not daring to 
move lest I be seen. 

'While they had us in this position, some kept firing while 
others ran down to the corporal, dragged his body up toward the 
door, cut off his equipment and coat and took them and his gun, 
broke his body up with the butts of their rifles and then got away 
without a shot being fired on our side. 

'A few minutes later a sergeant with two men came running 
through the woods, and Seeger (who had joined me) and I halted 
them, and we five advanced on the opening and put up the door. 
By that time reinforcements came up. 

'Corporal Weidemann was a full-blooded German, but had 
been in the Legion for fifteen years. He was ignorant but hon- 
est, impartial and afraid of nothing. In my mind he was the best 
of all the old Legionnaires. 

'The affair was rather a disgrace for all of us. I made mis- 
takes in my actions due to not being well versed in all kinds of 
warfare. The corporal acted wrongly through ignorance and 
astonishment. The whole thing impressed all of us more like a 
murder than warfare. The Germans had no military point to 
gain by doing what they did. It was done as an act of indi- 
vidualism with a desire to kill. The top of poor Weidemann's 
head was knocked off, after he was killed, by the butt of a 

'After the reinforcements came up, they scattered in search 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

of Germans while I resumed my post with the corporal's body 
beside me. In about fifteen minutes the stretcher-bearers came 
and got it, and I called the acting chief of the squad and told him 
he would have to relieve me, as my nerves had gone all to pieces. 
He did this and I went back to the chateau to make a report on 
how it all happened. 

'After about half an hour, I came back to my post and was on 
guard practically all the rest of the night. 

'About two hours after all this happened, there came from the 
German trenches the most diabolical yell of derision I ever 
heard. It was mocking Weidemann's last words, his call " Aux 
armes!" and it almost froze the blood to hear it. Up until that 
moment I had never felt a real desire to kill a German. Since 
then I have had nothing but murder in my heart, and now no 
matter what happens I am going through this war as long as I 

That yell from the German trenches made an undying impres- 
sion on every man who heard it. Alan Seeger wrote: 

'About midnight, from far up on the hillside, a diabolical cry 
came down, more like an animal's than a man's, a blood-curdling 
yell of mockery and exultation. 

'In that cry all the evolution of centuries was levelled. I 
seemed to hear the yell of the warrior of the Stone Age over his 
fallen enemy. It was one of those antidotes to civilization of 
which this war can offer so many to the searcher after extraor- 
dinary sensations.' 

Capdevielle's neck was grazed by a bullet, another passed 
between two of Zinn's fingers, and Buchanan's rifle was ruined, 
but the Ninth Squad stayed in the park of the chateau of Cra- 
onnelle four more days. Weidemann was succeeded as corporal 
of the squad by a Boer, who had been for almost ten years in 
the Legion. He had fought the English throughout the Boer War, 
and his father, brothers, and sisters were killed in it. His second 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

five years' term of enlistment in the Legion expired in March, 
1 91 5, and he left the corps with the intention of returning to 
South Africa to fight against the English there. 


Edward Mandell Stone was on guard February 17 with his 
machine-gun section, at an exposed point in the sector held by 
his battalion, to the left of Craonnelle. The Germans suddenly 
started an intense bombardment. Fearing that it was prepara- 
tory to a surprise attack, Stone stood by his piece, instead of 
taking shelter in a dugout, and a few minutes later fell mortally 

Van Vorst, who was on duty that day at the advanced dress- 
ing-post, wrote a relative the following letter about the first 
mortality among the American Legionnaires: 

'I saw Eddie Stone frequently during the six months we were 
together in Battalion C, Second Regiment of Foreign Legion. 
He was always on the job, and in good spirits. He had a lot of 
grit, poor chap. One day I got a call from his company to treat 
a wounded man. I found Stone with a hole made by a shrapnel 
ball in his side, probably left lung penetrated. There was no 
wound of exit, so the ball, or piece of shell, stayed in. He was 
carried back by my squad of stretcher-bearers from the first- 
line trench, where I applied the first dressing, to "Blanc Sab- 
Ion," our headquarters, and from there was removed to a hos- 
pital about eight miles back. I did not see him any more, but 
heard that he died of his wound in this hospital. I think he is 
buried near Revillion, a very small village about eight miles from 
Fismes, probably in or near the hospital grounds. He had some 
friends in the Legion who spoke highly of him to me. There was 
very little help we regimental doctors could do for the wounded, 
I am sorry to say. All we could do for them was to see they were 
carefully moved back out of the firing zone after a first dressing. 



The First Winter in the Trenches 

You can tell his people he always did his duty as a soldier, and 
died like one; of this I am sure.' 

Stone died in the hospital at Romilly-sur-Seine on February 
27, and was buried in the near-by cemetery. He was the first 
American citizen to be killed during the World War. Born in 
Chicago, Illinois, on January 8, 1888, his preliminary education 
was received at Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts. He 
entered Harvard College in 1904 and took his A.B. degree 
in three years, with the class of 1907. After two years in 
the Harvard Law School, Stone entered the United States 
Diplomatic Service, and went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as 
secretary to the United States Minister there, the Honorable 
Charles H. Sherrill. He was living in Paris when the war broke 

In the Legion, Stone was one of the quietest, hardest- working, 
and most unassuming soldiers, ever ready to propose himself for 
any post where coolness and fearlessness were especially re- 
quired. The other American volunteers saw little of him after 
the regiment arrived at the front, as he was the only American 
in his machine-gun section. 

Edward Mandell Stone was posthumously cited in the Order 
of the Army as 'a brave Legionnaire, who died for France on 
February 27, 1915, as a result of his glorious wounds received 
before Craonne.' 

Stone's letters to an uncle, Frederic M. Stone, tell something 
of his life in the Legion: 

'Mailly, October 9, 1914 

'We are now at an enormous military camp at a place called 
Mailly, about twenty miles from Chalons. We are working very 
hard going through exercises of all sorts, as I am glad to say that 
the French Government has no intention of sending us to the 
firing line without thorough preliminary training. As a matter 
of fact, we are not far from the front, and are well within hearing 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

of the artillery. The Germans have been here, and a part of the 
battle of the Marne was fought in this neighborhood. There are 
relics of the battle of all sorts: soldiers' graves, German and 
French rifles and uniforms, pieces of shells, etc. Some of the 
villages around here have been almost totally destroyed. 

'You will be glad to hear that I am perfectly well and that 
the life up to the present has been doing me good rather than 

Another letter, dated January 20, 191 5, said: 
'I think it is time I gave a more detailed account of myself 
than I have done up to the present time. The censorship has 
somewhat relaxed, so I do not think there can be any danger of 
my letter being interfered with. As I wrote several times to 
Uncle Nat, we have been in this neighborhood, that is to say in 
the region of Craonne, for nearly three months. There has been 
very little action here since we arrived, and practically no 
ground lost or gained. This does not mean that we have had an 
easy time, for we have been under fire more or less continually. 
The weather has been very trying, as there has been an enor- 
mous amount of rain and we are all more or less tired out. Within 
the last week there have been unfavorable developments near 
Soissons, and it looks as if we should have to retreat, especially 
as the Aisne is in flood and many of the bridges impracticable. 
If there is a battle of any importance, we probably shall not take 
part in it, as we are in no condition to go through an action last- 
ing several days. We shall in all probability go ingloriously to 
the rear, giving place to fresh troops. 

'To go into more detail concerning myself, I have been able to 
keep well up to the present time. We are well fed, and all mail 
arrives regularly, although of course more or less delayed. I 
have so far kept out of all trouble and get on well with officers 
and men in the regiment. I am not, however, on the road to 
promotion, although several of my friends are already corporals 

5 2 

The First TV inter in the Trenches 

and one a sergeant. I can think of nothing else except that I 
have been inoculated against typhoid fever.' 

The 'Harvard Graduates' Magazine,' speaking of Stone's 
death, said: 

A recent account received from the front states that 'Dr. Van Vorst, 
who attended him, asked if he wished to have him write to any one, 
but Stone said it was not worth while.' These words were, in a way, 
characteristic of the man — what he did, he did well, and invariably 
felt that no particular attention should be paid to the results he 
achieved. He was an essentially modest person who took life as he 
found it, and contributed to everything he took part in both with high 
ideals and straightforward work. 

The 'Harvard Crimson' said, in the number of March 28, 

The papers report that Edward Mandell Stone, '08, who last August 
enlisted in the Foreign Legion of France, has died. His classmates, his 
friends, even those who knew him only enough to say a merry hello to 
him as he passed them in the Yard a few short years ago, will feel deep 
regret for the loss of a man whom they liked and respected, and a deep 
sympathy for his bereaved family. But in a more general sense, this is 
a particularly significant loss, for Stone was, I believe, the first Har- 
vard man to lose his life in the war. We do much talking around the 
Yard about the war, taking sides (usually the same side) with earnest 
eloquence; but here is a fellow, happy, rich, strong, with a promising 
life before him, who did not hesitate to volunteer under a foreign ban- 
ner and sacrifice his life for the cause he thought (and most of us 
think) right. Let undergraduates and professors and alumni take off" 
their hats in reverent memory of their brother who by dying for his 
ideals has brought honor upon himself and upon the University he so 
nobly represented. 


There had been misunderstandings and more or less ill-feeling 
between the veteran Legionnaires and the volunteers for the 
war's duration ever since the two groups were thrown together 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

in the training-camps, and conditions under which all the men 
lived at the front had done little to help the situation. Cold and 
wet and tired, every man was apt to be chronically ill-tempered 
and quarrelsome, and it was usually a caseof each man for himself 
and his particular group of friends. 

Some of the volunteers had protested openly when they were 
first put in with the old Legionnaires from Africa, alleging that 
they were a lot of outcasts from society and fugitives from 
justice — the very outcry raised before the war by the Germans, 
and furthered by thoughtless writers of romance. No accusa- 
tion could be more unjust to the veterans, who, like the volun- 
teers, were drawn from all classes of society. Some, authentic 
descendants of the Lansquenets of other days, had a passion for 
the soldier's calling which could be satisfied only by service in an 
active corps like the Foreign Legion; some were lured by the 
mirage of adventure in exotic lands. Others, of an independent 
or irregular nature, had revolted against civilization, or been un- 
able to earn a living under ordinary conditions in civilized 
countries. Many were natives of Alsace-Lorraine who resented 
German domination over their country, and could not serve 
France elsewhere than in the Legion. A few, by far the smallest 
class, came to the Legion because of disappointment in love or 
to forget the past or allow it to be forgotten. 

The veterans, feeling that they were looked down upon as 
mercenary soldiers by the volunteers, despised the latter as ill- 
trained novices, and often taunted them with their lackof hardi- 
ness and metier. Old Weidemann frequently told his men that 
they had enlisted only pour la gamelle (for the food), and that 
there was not a man amongst them who would not gladly sell 
his rifle for a pot of jam. Other veteran corporals and non-coms 
frequently made similar remarks: the volunteer privates could 
not answer back the grades (corporals and sergeants), but were 
ever ready to resent anything derogatory coming from a veteran 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

Early in March, Battalion C was behind the lines at Cuiry- 
les-Chaudardes. Phelizot and some of the Americans sat in a 
courtyard drinking coffee, when there appeared two veteran 
Legionnaires belonging to the machine-gun company, old 
soldiers so bronzed by years of hot African sunshine and cold 
desert winds that their race and nationality could only be 
guessed at. These men began making scathing comments on 
the volunteers and about the Americans in particular. Each 
proclaimed that he could beat single-handed and in fair fight 
any seven of the Americans. 

Phelizot immediately offered to fight both men; his offer was 
as quickly accepted, and the scrap began. It started off well for 
the American, who was a good boxer; he knocked down one 
adversary, and was severely punishing the other, when a third 
old Legionnaire, a chum of the first two, arrived. Seeing that 
things were going badly for his comrades, he swung his large 
bidon (water-bottle), heavy with two litres of wine, and struck 
Phelizot a crashing blow on the head. The latter fell uncon- 
scious; the other Americans and more veterans of the machine- 
gun section joined the fray, and only the arrival of a captain and 
several non-coms prevented blood from flowing freely. 

Phelizot was carried into a room and revived, but he suffered 
all night with an intense pain in his head. The following morn- 
ing at sick-call he reported ill, went to the infirmary and was 
examined by the battalion doctor. The doctor looked him over, 
said there was nothing wrong, and refused to exempt him from 

Phelizot marched back to the trenches that night with his 
company. Invariably of a cheerful, uncomplaining nature, and 
used to hardships from his years in the African jungles, he tried 
to remain with his comrades, but the pain in his head increased, 
and finally on the second morning in the firing line his sergeant 
ordered him back to the infirmary. 

Phelizot must have suffered intense agony, but he made the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

long trip back to Cuiry alone and afoot, and again presented 
himself at the infirmary. For the second time the doctor looked 
him over, then callously and suspiciously declared: 'There is 
nothing wrong with you. You only want to be sent back to the 
rear. Get on up to the front line again!' 

Phelizot stumbled out of the infirmary and started up the 
road leading to Chateau Blanc Sablon and the trenches. 

Somewhat later in the day, Captain de la Villeon, commander 
of Phelizot's company, rode by. He saw a man lying by the 
roadside, but he thought it was only a weary soldier taking a rest, 
and passed on. Riding back an hour later, he noticed the same 
man lying in the same place, and called to him. There was no 
answer, so the captain, ever thoughtful of the welfare and condi- 
tion of his men, dismounted to see what was wrong. He bent 
over the man and called to him again: the answer was a low 
groan. De la Villeon hastily turned the soldier over; it was 
Phelizot, already partly paralyzed and with lockjaw setting 

An ambulance was hastily called, and Phelizot was rushed to 
the nearest base hospital, seventeen kilometres away at Fismes. 
There everything possible was done to save him, but it was too 
late. The skull was fractured, and badly infected with tetanus. 

At the close of day on March 15, Phelizot, who had lain for 
hours unconscious, slowly raised himself in his cot, unwound 
the American flag from around his waist where it had been 
since the American volunteers left Camp de Mailly, cried out, 
'I am an American!' and fell back dead. 

Phelizot was buried in the cemetery at Fismes. Like Stone, 
he was born in Chicago, Illinois. He ran away from home at the 
age of thirteen, and worked as cabin-boy on a Mississippi River 
passenger boat for a time, then at the age of fifteen worked his 
way across the Atlantic on a freight steamer. 

Returning to Chicago, he remained there for a while, and 
joined the Illinois Naval Reserve. He was afflicted with an in- 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

curable wanderlust, however, and before long was again away 
seeking adventure. He hunted elephants for their ivory tusks in 
Africa for over ten years, became one of the best-known big- 
game killers on the Dark Continent, and accumulated a com- 
fortable fortune. He was in Paris on a pleasure trip when war 
was declared. 

Phelizot was one of the most beloved volunteers in the Le- 
gion, and one of the most helpful and generous. At Christmas 
time he sent from the trenches four hundred dollars toward a 
fund to buy gifts for poor Paris children. On the march he was 
ever ready to help weaker comrades by carrying their rifles or 

When news of Phelizot's death reached the front, there was a 
pitched battle between the Americans and the veterans of the 
machine-gun section. ChatkofF knocked down the man who 
struck the fatal blow, and was literally kicking him to death, 
when a military guard appeared, separated all the combatants, 
and placed both sections under arrest. Phelizot's slayer disap- 
peared from the Legion; it was said that he had been sentenced 
to the penitentiary regiment in Africa. The brutal doctor did 
not stay much longer with the Legion, either. So many com- 
plaints were made against him that he was sent away. 


By the end of the first winter of the war, the ranks of the 
Second Marching Regiment of the Legion were sadly depleted. 
Deaths, wounds, and illness had taken a heavy toll among the 
men who so gayly left Toulouse the previous September. The 
First Company of Battalion C, in which were most of the Ameri- 
cans, was reduced to about one third its normal strength. There 
were only six men left in the Ninth Squad: Capdevielle, Dowd, 
Kiffin Rockwell, Seeger, von Krogh, and Nilson, who had spent 
most of the winter in hospital. Since the veteran Boer left the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Legion, there had been no corporal for the squad, Capdevielle 
and Kiffin Rockwell acting in that capacity. 

The English volunteers left on February I to join their na- 
tional Army; young Bertrand Towle declared he was a British 
subject and left with them. When he reached England, he ap- 
pealed to the American Ambassador in London, obtained his 
discharge from the British Army, and returned to America. 

Soubiran passed the early winter behind the lines; the wheat 
abandoned in the war zone by the peasants was harvested by 
the French Army and, because of his mechanical skill, Soubiran 
was assigned to run a threshing-machine. Beaumont, Car- 
stairs, Casey, Delpeuch, Ganson, Olinger, Percy, Paul Rock- 
well, and Fred Zinn were scattered about France in military 
hospitals. Theodore Haas was sent to hospital early in April, 
and thirty-two bits of shrapnel were picked out of his body by 

After long stays in hospital, Carstairs, Ganson, Olinger, and 
Paul Rockwell were invalided out of the Legion. Carstairs and 
Olinger returned to the United States; Paul Rockwell remained 
in France to be near his brother, and engaged in French propa- 
ganda work. 

Rupert Van Vorst obtained a leave of absence to go to Amer- 
ica, because of the grave illness of one of his children, and the 
French Embassy at Washington liberated him from further 
service with the Foreign Legion. 

Reinforcements arrived from the depots at Toulouse and 
Orleans, among them three splendid Americans, Guy H. Ago- 
stini, of San Francisco, California; John Bowe, of Canby, Min- 
nesota; and Wilfred Michaud, of Detroit, Michigan. Agostini 
was visiting in Tarragona, Spain, where his brother was United 
States Consular Agent, when war broke out, and went to Mar- 
seille to enlist under the French colors. John Bowe was much 
older than the other volunteers. He was for years an evangelist, 
but, as he was of fighting blood, enlisted in the Thirteenth 


The First Winter in the Trenches 

Minnesota Regiment during the Spanish-American War, took 
part in the capture of Manila, and fought throughout the Philip- 
pine Insurrection, where he won a Congressional Medal. Re- 
turning home, he wrote the history of his regiment, and when 
the World War started, was Mayor of Canby, Minnesota, and 
owner of a prosperous wholesale country produce commission 
business. He resigned his post as mayor, liquidated his business, 
said farewell to his wife and children — one of them was study- 
ing to be a missionary — and hastened to France to join the 
Foreign Legion. Michaud was born at Champion, Michigan, of 
French-Canadian parentage. 

Bouligny, Morlae, and Sweeny were made sergeants during 
the winter, and Morlae was put in charge of the section in which 
were most of the Americans. Strong, wiry, and accustomed to 
hardships and army life, Morlae stood up well under the suffer- 
ings of trench warfare. Jealous, aggressive, and ill-natured, he 
was disliked by his American comrades, and he hated them in re- 
turn; he did all he could to make life miserable for them, and 
inflicted punishments at the slightest excuse. 

Because Casey set fire accidentally to some straw in a trench 
one night, Morlae denounced him as a spy, and claimed Casey 
was signalling to the Germans. He saw spies everywhere: 
Seeger was of a solitary nature, often wandering off alone, and 
Morlae accused him to the Legion officers of communicating 
with the enemy. He succeeded in getting dinger arrested as a 
spy; the latter was court-martialled, but had no difficulty in 
proving his innocence. 

Zinn was worn out and ill for some weeks, before he consented 
to go to the hospital. He would fall asleep while on guard and 
snore loudly; Morlae had him arrested several times and prison 
sentences were inflicted; the other Americans finally interested 
Commandant de Galle, commander of Battalion C, in Zinn, 
and he was sent to a hospital. 

Kiffin Rockwell wrote his brother Paul: 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'If you can get me transferred to a regular French regiment 
or to the Premier Etranger, get busy at once. Morlae just came 
back, after studying in a corporals' school. He is now the ser- 
geant in charge of this section and a bigger son-of-a-bitch than 
ever. He takes every opportunity to insult the Americans in 
front of superior officers, so as to try and curry favor with them. 
He and I are always at swords' points and I have told him that 
some day we may both be back in America. The first thing I 
shall do, when we are back there, is to beat hell out of him. 
None of us has any use for him. But you know how it is in the 
French Army. A sergeant has it over a private. I have even 
been thinking of changing my company because I might really 
lose my temper some time and kill the blackguard, and you 
know what that would mean for me. I want you to keep this 
letter in regard to Morlae, and if by chance I do not get back to 
the United States, and he tries to get a lot of cheap notoriety 
over there, like he is after, this is what the Americans think of 

Chapter IV 


N r OT all the Americans who enlisted in August, 191 4, 
were in the group sent to the Second Foreign Regiment. 
Kenneth Weeks, of Boston, Massachusetts, a former 
student of architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Tech- 
nology and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, and a brilliant young 
author, enrolled on August 21, and was assigned to Battalion C 
of the Second Marching Regiment of the First Foreign Regi- 
ment, whose training camp was at Bayonne. Weeks, who had 
made France his home for several years, had written his mother 
from Paris on June 30: 

'As you know by this time, there is an alarming situation 
here. I wrote that I was visiting a friend; he was called to his 
regiment to-day. Every soldier en conge has been likewise re- 
called and several regiments have been mobilized. The railways 
are crowded by troops. It is a question of nothing, nothing but 
war. Russia is in arms. The English fleet is ready. Here there is 
tumult; it seems as if war were inevitable, and, of course, in that 
case I will engage at once. In a few days I will know and will in- 
form you. The situation may calm itself; if not, I join the army 
as soon as possible.' 

He wrote again on August 12: 

'I have not been able to engage as soon as I hoped, but in a 
few days I leave for the Foreign Legion for the duration of the 

war Paris is wonderfully calm, as is all France. Naturally, 

perfect confidence exists and, God be praised, the barbarians 
will be crushed flat. You can imagine my joy in spite of the 
horror of such a war, but it was inevitable and is wise. I dare 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

not think of my friends. All I pray is I may put as many Prus- 
sians out of the way as possible.' 

Weeks was joined at Bayonne by John A. Cordonnier, of New 
York, who had crossed the Atlantic to enlist against the Ger- 
mans. As at Toulouse, the volunteers at Bayonne were mixed 
in with veteran Legionnaires from Morocco, and a strenuous 
period of training was undergone. As an experiment, many of 
the volunteers in the battalion were grouped by nationalities: 
the Czechs, Poles, and Greeks formed separate companies which 
for political reasons were allowed to carry their national colors. 
Cordonnier was put with the Poles, while Weeks was in a com- 
pany composed largely of Italians. With him was another young 
writer, the Russian Zinovi Pechkoff, an adopted son of Maxime 
Gorky; Pechkoff" at one time had lived in America, and was re- 
siding in Italy in August, 1914. He took the first train from 
Rome to Paris, after the declaration of war, and enlisted in the 
Legion, to the great annoyance of his adopted father. 

The Bayonne battalion was not long in getting ready for serv- 
ice at the front, and after a short stay at the Camp de Mailly, 
went into the trenches at the base of Reims Mountain, a few 
kilometres southwest of Reims, on October 26, along with the 
rest of the Premier Etr anger, as the regiment is usually called. 
The regiment was well officered, and its men full of spirit and de- 
termination, and was not slow in making its sector a veritable 
labyrinth of deep trenches, boyaux, underground tunnels, and 
shell-proof dugouts. In December it attacked the Germans 
north of Prunay, drove them back, and advanced its lines over 
fifteen hundred metres (more than a mile). On March 1 it re- 
pulsed two violent enemy attacks around the Fort de la Pom- 
pelle. A war between outposts and patrols went on night and 
day. The regiment formed part of the famous Moroccan Divi- 
sion, the terror of the Germans because of the ferocity of its 
native Colonial troops and the dashing courage of its Zouaves, 
the pride of the French Army. 


First Attacks 

The first officer of the regiment killed, and the first one of the 
Legion to fall in the World War, was Lieutenant Max Doumic, 
brother of Rene Doumic, of the Academie Francaise. Fifty-two 
years old, and therefore free from all military obligations, 
Lieutenant Doumic volunteered the day war was declared, and 
was sent to Bayonne to help train the Legion battalion there. 
He led his men up to the front, and was killed a few days later, 
in early November, while on guard in the Zouave Wood, near 
Reims. His Legionnaires, who admired him greatly, erected 
over his grave a monument, bearing the simple inscription: 'A 
notre Lieutenant bien aime.' ('To our well-loved Lieutenant.') 

All the depots of the Premier Etranger were concentrated at 
Lyon late in October, and here arrived during the fall and winter 
several unusually fine American youths, including Harmon 
Dunn Hall, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois; John 
Smith, of Wooster, Ohio; Nelson Larsen, of Buffalo, New York; 
Paul Pavelka, of Madison, Connecticut; Frank Musgrave, of 
San Antonio, Texas; Russell Kelly, of New York; Lawrence 
Scanlan, of Cedarhurst, Long Island; and Jack Janz, of Phila- 
delphia, Pennsylvania. 

Every one of these boys worked his way across the ocean on 
transports loaded with horses, sailing from various ports in 
Canada or the United States, and enlisted at Bordeaux or at La 
Rochelle. Kelly and Scanlan, who were chums since babyhood, 
came on the same boat, and Kelly's account of the trip across, 
written home to his father, is characteristic of all the crossings: 

'Bordeaux, Wednesday, November 25, 1914 

'On Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, 1914, we left 
New York, from the South Brooklyn Basin, on the good ship 
Orcadian with a cargo of six hundred and fifty horses for the use 
of the French Army. There were twenty-five men, including my 
chum Larney and myself, who had not previously worked on 
ships nor around horses, and eight experienced horsemen. We 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

twenty-five consisted of twelve Englishmen, seven Italians, two 
Greeks, one Spaniard, and three Americans, the third being a 
Negro. The first day the ship was out, the English and Italians 
started to fight, and this divided the party into two messes; at 
each meal thereafter there were hostilities. The third day out 
we ran into very rough weather, which continued during the 
following day: the vessel rolled and pitched in a horrible fashion, 
and most of us suffered severely from seasickness. 

'The food furnished to us was very poor. The first nine meals 
consisted of Irish stew, and I believe it was made on the first day 
and thereafter heated at meal time. 

'We went en masse to the chief steward and demanded better 
food; there was a change, but it was no better — it was only 

' The horses were fed twice a day, the first time in the morning 
from half-past five to eight o'clock. We then had breakfast fol- 
lowed by hoisting feed from the hold, cleaning the stalls and 
similar duties, and then dinner. At three in the afternoon we 
gave the horses their second feeding, which took until nearly six 
o'clock, when we had supper. 

' In rough weather life on the boat was fierce. Watering the 
horses as the boat rolled usually resulted in much of the water 
getting on the men, and the deck was always wet and slippery. 

'A cabin meant to hold twelve seamen held thirty-three 
cattlemen, so conditions can be realized. The air was foul; in 
fact the whole ship was foul. During the last week I slept in the 
lowest deck on the hay. We could not eat the food furnished, 
and even had it been palatable, it lacked quantity, so my appe- 
tite was not appeased once during the trip. I lost about fifteen 
pounds during the voyage. I could wash only twice and shave 
once during the trip. English warships convoyed us for the en- 
tire voyage, yet there was much uneasiness among the men. 
We lost eighteen horses en route. 

'On November 19th we were in that part of the Atlantic called 


First Attacks 

the Bay of Biscay, and entering the broad Gironde River pro- 
ceeded up it for about thirty miles to Pauillac, off which we lay 
two days, and then went up the river another thirty miles to 
Bordeaux, where we docked at seven in the morning of Satur- 
day, November 21st. It was snowing and the city did not seem 
real — it looked so quaint and picturesque. 

'At ten o'clock we were dressed and went ashore and were 
stopped on the wharf by a customs official who looked in only 
one valise and that was for tobacco and matches. The party 
then proceeded to a wine-shop, where some bought wine, that 
they said was good, for fifteen centimes a glass. 

'We left our hand baggage at this shop and went to the Brit- 
ish Consul, from whom we obtained our discharge. We then 
returned for the bags and sought lodgings, which we obtained 
on Rue Notre Dame. 

'On Sunday, Larney and I with the two Greeks from the ship 
went around town, one of the Greeks being the only member 
who could speak French. 

'Monday morning the four of us found the station for recruit- 
ing for the Army and made application to join the Foreign 
Legion. The Officers were agreeable, but evinced no desire to 
urge us to enlist, and they informed us of an old rule in the 
Legion, that an applicant will not be examined or accepted until 
the day following his application. So we returned Tuesday 
morning at eight o'clock and took the physical examination, 
which was very thorough, and the four of us were accepted. 

'Twenty other men who meant to join the Regular Army were 
examined at the same time, six of whom were rejected, some 
solely on account of poor teeth. 

'At five o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 24, 
1914, we signed articles which made us soldiers in the Army of 
France, in the division la Legion etrangere, for service during the 

*W T e were not asked to take any oath of allegiance to France, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

nor to renounce our allegiance to the United States; all that was 
required of us was to be over eighteen years of age and to pass 
the doctor. 

'We were given five francs (one dollar) as spending money, 
and a railroad ticket to Lyon, where one of the depots of the 
Foreign Legion is located. It is to be our training station for 
four or five months, they say, before we can go to the front. No 
escort was furnished or effort made to see that we reported at 
Lyon and we learned it was the custom even before the war to 
trust recruits for the Legion to reach the depot of their own ac- 

Hall came originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, but was an 
automobile salesman in Chicago for several years prior to the 
war. Smith was a charter member of the 'Adventurers' Club,' 
and had sought for gold in Alaska, fought in Mexican and 
Chilean revolutions, served in the United States Army at home 
and in the Philippines, among other experiences. Musgrave was 
a graduate of Tulane University, at New Orleans, and practised 
law in San Antonio until the war called him abroad. Janz, Lar- 
sen, and Pavelka were sailors, and knew most of the ports of the 
world. Scanlan and Kelly were very young; Scanlan had been 
studying electrical engineering, and Kelly a cadet at the Vir- 
ginia Military Institute. 

Paul Pavelka was one of the most interesting American 
volunteers in the entire Foreign Legion. He left home at the age 
of fourteen, because of differences with his stepmother (his own 
mother died when he was little), and had worked at many call- 
ings. He had been cook in a sheep-camp in the West, a cowboy, 
an assistant nurse in a San Francisco hospital. Then he had 
taken to the sea, and sailed on all the oceans. With a small 
band of comrades, he once walked across South America, and 
some of his companions died during the hard climb over the 
Andes. He had been in Australia and the South Sea Isles, and 
had touched at many European ports. He was living at a sailors' 


First Attacks 

home in New York when the World War started, and joined 
with a recruiter who took men to a Canadian port for a ship 
which carried a load of horses over to the British Army. When 
he arrived in England, Pavelka first joined one of the strangest 
corps ever organized during any war: the 'Army' of the South 
American 'Republic' of Counani, with which he came to France 
in November, 191 4, and enlisted in the Foreign Legion at La 

There was also at the Lyon depot of the Premier Stranger in 
the late fall of 1914 and for a number of months in 1915 one 
Peter Sanford Mallon, M.D., of Greystone Park, New Jersey, 
who, according to his own story, was for many years a physician 
attached to the New Jersey State Insane Asylum. Mallon came 
to France after the outbreak of the war and first tried to get into 
the French Red Cross. Failing in this, he enlisted in the Foreign 
Legion as a private soldier, and drilled for a time at Lyon. He 
never went to the front, but did light work around the barracks 
and the regimental infirmary, until he was discharged from the 
Legion toward the end of 191 5. 

Smith, Larsen, Pavelka, Musgrave, Kelly, Scanlan, and Janz 
were sent to the front with detachments of reinforcements at 
different periods in February and March, 191 5, and most of 
them were put into the same squad. Russell Kelly wrote from 
Verzenay, under date of April 9, 191 5: 'We were scheduled to 
leave town one night for the third line of defense, and had our 
packs made up, when in came a fellow who wanted to see the 
Americans. He was an American from the Second Regiment 
Stranger, and had been transferred at his own request, and as 
the authorities are following a plan of segregation by nations, 
he was sent to our squad. I was agreeably surprised to learn 
that he had been at Virginia Military Institute; he is Kiffin Y. 
Rockwell. His arrival brought our number up to six.' 
! The American Squad of the Premier Etranger was in Company 
2, Battalion B, and was led by a gigantic Moor, Corporal Didier, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

a veteran with many years' service in the Legion; its members 
were Russell Kelly, Paul Pavelka, Kiffin Rockwell, Lawrence 
Scanlan, John Smith, Kenneth Weeks; Neamorin, an Indian 
Oxford graduate from Calcutta; Zannis, a Constantinople 
Greek; Jury and Godin, two veteran Legionnaires; two Belgians, 
who had also served in Morocco; and three Italian volunteers. 
PechkofT had been a member of the squad, but was named 
corporal and sent to Battalion D, where he found himself with 
Jack Cordonnier and Nelson Larsen. Jack Janz and Frank 
Musgrave were together in Battalion A. 

The trenches held by the regiment and the rest of the Moroc- 
can Division were so laid out that the sector was almost like an 
underground city: they were eight feet deep, three feet wide, 
and wound about in every direction, so that one could walk for 
hours without retracing the same route. They all led into a 
front combat trench, which was especially well made, with loop- 
holes every two feet, and little places to stand in when shooting. 
By working day and night, the Legionnaires had made their 
position one of the strongest along the entire front. 

There were continuous losses from enemy shell-fire and bullets. 
Corporal Laurencot, an American citizen of French origin, was 
on guard at dawn one April morning with his squad at an ad- 
vanced listening-post. A German bullet glanced off the steel 
plate with which the post was roofed, and Laurencot fell 
mortally wounded with a huge hole torn through his head. He 
was one of the most popular men in Battalion D, and had just 
been proposed for a sergeant's stripes. Colonel Pein, com- 
mander of the Legion Brigade, showed Laurencot the signal 
honor of having his squad descend from the trenches for the 

The celebrated Russian sculptor Mikailoff, a forty-year-old 
volunteer, was pulverized by an exploding shell, as he passed 
along a boyau to fetch the soupe for his squad. 

There were moments of diversion as well for the Legionnaires. 


First Attacks 

The Germans were heavily bombarding a wood in which was 
hidden a French battery. Numerous rabbits, frightened by the 
exploding shells, ran out into the open plain. An Italian volun- 
teer, Furlotti, heedless of orders and shrapnel, crawled out of 
his trench and knocked over with a club a dozen rabbits. Wrig- 
gling back to the trench with his booty, he selected the four fin- 
est rabbits, and offered them to his company commander, Cap- 
tain Junod. 

To Furlotti's surprise, Captain Junod gave him four days' 
prison for needlessly risking his life. 

'Then you wish me to take away the rabbits, my captain?' 
murmured the Italian. 'You will not do poor Furlotti the honor 
of accepting them, after he exposed his life to kill them, and is 
going to prison for the first time!' 

'Leave the rabbits here, and get away,' laughed the captain. 

'That means Furlotti will not be locked up,' said the Italian, 
loud enough for the captain to hear him. Nothing more was 
ever said about the punishment 

Late in April the four battalions of the Premier Etranger were 
pulled out of the trenches, and told that they were being moved 
to take part in a great attack against the Germans, just where 
was not known. There was great joy at the news, as every one 
was tired of the routine of trench life, and anxious to see vigor- 
ous action. The rejoicing was increased by the premature an- 
nouncement of the entry of Italy into the war on the Allied side. 
A general celebration ensued, led by the Italians, which ended 
by numerous free-for-all fights. Prison sentences were freely 
handed out by the officers, but were never inflicted, for the fol- 
lowing morning, April 25, the regiment was loaded onto trains 
of box cars and taken north. 


By the time the Legionnaires arrived at the village of Bethon- 
sart, north of Arras, they were well aware that the biggest 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

battle since the beginning of trench warfare was in preparation. 
Around the railway station where they detrained were huge, 
newly constructed barracks to serve as evacuation hospitals for 
the wounded. Trainload after trainload of troops were arriving: 
French, British, and Belgian. Among others, there was a fresh 
Belgian battery, with French cannon, English harness, and Ca- 
nadian horses. Endless lines of infantry and artillery stretched 
out across the slightly rolling plain, all headed toward the same 

The region was poor and entirely abandoned by its civilian 
population. The fields were uncultivated, and the roofs of the 
houses, even far behind the lines, were falling in. War was felt 
here, more intensely than in the smiling Champagne country. 

The Legionnaires camped in the open air under tents for three 
hot, sultry days, around Bethonsart; then with the rest of the 
Moroccan Division they moved up and spent six days in reserve 
just behind the firing line. Then they went into the trenches; 
poorly made, shallow affairs, with no bombproof shelters, which 
caused the men to exclaim, 'Where are our beautiful trenches of 
Champagne?' It began to rain, and they made acquaintance 
with the terrible sticky red mud of Artois. 

The listening-posts were only twenty-five yards from the 
enemy trenches. In one of them lay at night six Legionnaires, 
a corporal, two Spaniards, and three Russians. They heard 
some one calling in German : ' Eh, comrades, German comrades ! ' 
They started to fire, but a Russian who spoke German replied: 
'Who are you? What do you want?' The unknown person an- 
swered: 'I am a spy. I have at last been able to desert; I have 
information.' The Russian answered back: 'You are in front of 
the German trenches. Advance without fear, comrade.' The 
spy jumped into the listening-post; immediately six bayonets 
nailed him to the earth. 

All along the French sector, men were busy with pick and 
shovel, digging mines, and making parallels for the attack. By 


First Attacks 

night they crawled out between the lines, and while some kept up 
an incessant rifle fire, others worked, every man hugging as best 
he could the terrain, which was continually swept by German 
machine-gun fire. 

The Legion's dressing-post was installed at Berthonval Farm; 
the Germans had been there, and knew its every nook and 
corner, and constantly fired upon it. Underground were miles 
of caverns made by quarrying stone, but they were unsafe and 
forbidden to the men : huge pieces of stone fell down while shells 
exploded on the ground above. 

Two men arrived at the post, leading a Spanish volunteer, 
Taras. He had been shot through the jaws and chest while on 
listening-post. Fixing his bayonet, he had wanted to rush out 
and charge the Germans single-handed, but his comrades 
dragged him back to the dressing-post. 

Unable to speak, Taras grabbed a pencil and wrote: 'I want 
to make the attack.' In order to get him to allow his wounds to 
be bandaged, the doctors were obliged to tell him that the at- 
tack was postponed, and that it was useless for him to return to 
the trenches. The bandages placed, the Spaniard waved aside 
the stretcher-bearers, and started off alone toward the village of 
Acque, where he was told his company was going for repose. 
He never reached there, but fell dead by the wayside. 

Every one was raging for the attack to begin. The Legion- 
naires shaved off their beards, which had been allowed to grow 
all winter and spring. KifBn Rockwell sacrificed a splendid 
growth, which had made him known throughout two regiments 
of the Legion as ' Le grand avec la barbe' (the tall fellow with the 
beard). Packs were lightened, and everything not absolutely 
essential thrown away. Men ran about gathering up all the 
extra cartridges and grenades they could find. Among the most 
exalted was a Russian, Nicolas Kordochenko, who weighted 
himself down with grenades he begged, borrowed, and stole! 
During the war between Russia and Japan, Kordochenko was 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

cook for Admiral Makaroff aboard the latter's flagship. The 
battleship was torpedoed, and the cook was one of the only 
three men saved. In August, 1914, he was chef in Paris for a 
Russian prince, and at once enlisted in the Legion, where his 
culinary talents were greatly appreciated by his comrades. 

The night before the attack, Ladislas Sznynski, son of the 
famous Polish historian, was killed as he took down from the 
parapet of a trench a Polish flag he had placed there to incite 
Poles serving in the enemy ranks to desert. 

Everything was in readiness for the attack. Colonel Pein 
said: 'My men will charge without their packs, in order to run 
better. If their clothes bother them, they will go stark naked, 
but they will jump upon Hill 140!' 

The officers put on their best uniforms, with all their medals, 
and wore fresh white gloves, as if going to dress parade. Many 
of them carried short swagger sticks, instead of swords. 

No better account of the great battle of May 9 could be given 
than that written by Kifnn Rockwell from hospital under date 
of May 15: 

'Well, I am lying between two nice, clean sheets now for the 
first time in nearly nine months, so I guess you know how good 
it must feel. 

'We went to the trenches on May 5th to stay forty-eight 
hours, as the trenches were only a little over one hundred metres 
apart, and there was nothing to do but stand guard and work 
building tunnels and boyaux toward the German trenches. 
When our two days were up, instead of being relieved, we were 
told that there was to be an attack all along that line the com- 
ing night at midnight, and that our battalion was to lead our 
regiment. So all that day, every one was busy going to the rear 
for cartridges, food, etc., and also working throwing up an em- 
bankment nearly reaching to the barbed wire of the Boches. 
This work was very dangerous, as it was done under rifle fire 
and danger from bombs, but we were protected a little by our 


First Attacks 

own rifle and artillery fire. I spent three hours at it and didn't 
like it a bit. 

'We got everything ready, and at eight o'clock settled down 
to wait for the bombardment which was to precede the attack, 
but it didn't begin. At ten o'clock, we were told that the attack 
had been postponed, and that the following morning we would 
be relieved. So we went out to our temporary trench and spent 
the night on guard in it. The following morning we were re- 
lieved, and marched twelve kilometres to the rear (four of them 
through trenches). 

'That night at seven o'clock I lay down thinking I would get 
a good night's sleep, having had only five or six hours' sleep in 
the last three days. At one o'clock in the morning, we were 
awakened and told to make our sacs at once. We left in short 
order, arriving in the second-line trenches at daybreak, where 
we took our position. 

'In a few minutes it began to sound as if all hell had broken 
loose, when our artillery all along the line opened up on the 
Germans. The damnedest bombardment imaginable was kept 
up until ten o'clock. Along the whole German line, you could 
see nothing but smoke and debris. At ten o'clock, I saw the 
finest sight I have ever seen. It was men from the Premier 
Etranger crawling out of our trenches, with their bayonets 
glittering against the sun, and advancing on the Boches. There 
was not a sign of hesitation. They were falling fast, but as fast 
as men fell, it seemed as if new men sprang up out of the ground 
to take their places. One second it looked as if an entire section 
had fallen by one sweep of a machine-gun. In a few moments, 
a second line of men crawled out of our trenches; and at seven 
minutes past ten, our captain called "En avant!" and we went 
dashing down the trenches with the German artillery giving us 
hell as we went. 

'Just as we reached the first-line trenches, a shell burst near 
the captain, and left his face covered with blood. He brushed 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

his hand across it, and I heard him say " Cochons!" and that it 
was nothing. Then he called for every one out of the trenches. 

'We scrambled out, and from then on it was nothing but a 
steady advance under rifle, machine-gun, and artillery fire. We 
certainly had the Boches on the run, but at the same time they 
were pouring the lead at us. We would dash forward twenty- 
five or fifty metres, and then, when the fire got too hot, would 
drop to the ground with our sacs in front of us, and lie there until 
we had our breath, and the bullets were not quite so thick. 
Then we would take our sacs in one hand as a kind of shield, and 
make another dash. 

'To think of fear or the horror of the thing was impossible. 
All I could think of was what a wonderful advance it was, and 
how every one was going up against that stream of lead as if he 
loved it. I kept that up for five hours. By then we had ad- 
vanced three or four kilometres, but were badly cut up and also 
mixed up with men from other regiments, mostly Algerian 
tirailleurs. Most of our officers had fallen, including the colonel 
and three commandants. (I understand that there now re- 
main only four officers out of the whole regiment.) We had 
taken most of a village and were taking the rest of it. My outfit 
was a little to the left, and we were being raked by fire from in 
front and from the end of the village still held by the Germans. 

' Skipper Pavelka and I were lying alongside the sous-lieuten- 
ant when a messenger came and told him that the captain and 
lieutenant had both fallen, and that he was in command of the 
company. The fire had been so heavy for the last half-hour 
that we had been advancing one man at a time to the section. 
The sous-lieutenant gave us the direction to take, and told us to 
follow him, one at a time. He jumped and dashed forward. I 
turned to Skipper and told him we might as well get it over with 
at once, so I started with Skipper behind me. 

'I got about twenty metres when a bullet caught me in the 
thigh, through the fleshy part, without touching the bone. I 


First Attacks 

continued for a few steps, and then toppled over. Skipper saw 
me drop, so dropped also in order to bandage me up if neces- 
sary. But I told him I could do it myself and for him to go 
ahead. I crawled over to a marmite hole, and into it. There I 
examined my wound and bandaged it; then turned my atten- 
tion to a comrade of the Hundred and Fifty-Sixth Regiment 
who was lying there. He had been shot through both hips and 
afterwards a piece of shell had gone through his stomach. I 
tried to bandage him up, but he was dying and I could not do 
any good. He wanted water, but I had none and could get none 
for him. That was the cry going up everywhere, for water. I 
stayed there until he died. 

'The line had not advanced any more, and the fire was ter- 
rific. While I was lying there, three shells exploded within ten 
metres of me, each time covering me with dirt. The last one 
landed within five or six metres of me. I would hear them com- 
ing and would say to myself, "Well, it is over," and shut my 
eyes. Then I would brush the dirt off, and find that I was all 
right. Finally, I crawled out of the hole, and up to the line 
where the men were; but they told me to crawl to the rear, say- 
ing the Boches might counter-attack, and then I would be 
captured. I knew they were right, so I started snake-fashion for 
the rear. I made about a kilometre that way to a haystack 
where there were several other wounded men. It was dark 
then, so I rested there and put my bandage on again, as it had 
come off. After a while a Red Cross man came. He told us that 
there were so many wounded that it would probably be the 
following day before we could get transported to the rear. So I 
found a stick and managed to hobble two or three kilometres 
more to a farm, where there were a large number of wounded. 

'I slept there that night, and the following morning contin- 
ued on my way. Finally, by walking some and riding a little on 
an artillery cart, I got to a place where I was given my evacua- 
tion card, and at midnight was able to get on a hospital train. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

It was very crowded, and by the following day my leg was too 
sore for me to move about much. ... I went four days without 
any attention to my wound (there were so many more badly 
wounded than I that I did not have the heart to ask for care). . . . 

'An afterthought: the Legion has again come into its own. 
We took prisoner the Boche colonel that was mentioned in the 

Men belonging to the elite of over fifty nations fell on May 9, 
charging with the Legion across the plains of Artois. Colonel 
Pein, carried away by the enthusiasm of his men, refused to re- 
main at his observation post, grabbed the rifle of a fallen soldier, 
and joined in the charge. At the Ouvrages Blancs he remarked 
a body of Germans coming out of a dugout with the intention of 
firing upon the Legionnaires from the rear. Turning with a 
handful of men to charge them, he was shot through the body, 
and fell mortally wounded. His last words were: 'I am all right. 
I fear there are many who will remain upon the battlefield. I 
am proud of my Legionnaires.' 

One sweep of machine-gun fire killed Commandant Noire, 
the leader of Battalion C; a fifty-year-old Belgian stretcher- 
bearer, Corporal Van Mengen; Corporal Oneger, a young 
Russian student; a Polish doctor, Major Neuflagel; and Theo- 
dokis, a Greek stretcher-bearer; they all fell in a heap just out- 
side the French barbed-wire entanglements. 

Commandants Gaubert, of Battalion A, and Muller, of 
Battalion D, were also killed, as were four captains and thirteen 
lieutenants. Captain Boutin, leader of the Americans' company, 
was slain early in the charge. Captain Osmont d'Amilly fell 
mortally wounded at the Ouvrages Blancs, saying to the men 
who wanted to carry him to the rear: 'Don't bother with me. 
En avantV Lieutenant Dostal, a Czech officer, was killed; be- 
fore the war he had been an officer in the Austrian artillery, and 
was one of the organizers of the Czech Volunteer Corps. Lieu- 
tenant de Malcy, a Pole, fell leading his fellow Poles forward. 


First Attacks 

At the third-line German trenches mines set off by electricity 
killed ninety Greeks and their officers, and wounded one hun- 
dred and sixty others of the Greek company. 

Almost all the other officers were wounded, including Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Cot, Colonel Pein's second in command. Cap- 
tain Junod, a Swiss and one of the most beloved officers in the 
Legion, was shot through the lung and the leg by machine-gun 
bullets as he led the first wave of attack with the cry: 'En avant, 
mes enfants! Courage!' Near him was slain one of his best men, 
a Spanish marquis who had enlisted to avenge a son killed near 

Adjudant Sedley lay dying at the Ouvrages Blancs, his body 
riddled with shell pieces. Taking a bit of note-paper from his 
pocket, he dipped a piece of wood in his own blood and painfully 
traced the words: c Je meurs content puisque nous sommes 
victorieux! Vive la France!' (I die content, because we are 
victorious! Long live France!) 

Bugler Theissen climbed up onto a haystack in the middle of 
the battlefield, and sounded the charge until he was killed by an 
enemy sharpshooter. 

Three young poets of acknowledged talent were among the 
slain: the Spaniard Ferres-Costa; Hernando de Vengoechea, 
from the Colombian Republic; and Rodolfo Lemmario, of 
Ecuador. Vacareano, a brother of the Royal Procurator of 
Roumania, was also killed. Three brothers from the Argentine 
Republic, who came over together for the war, fell in death side 
by side, cut down by one burst of machine-gun fire. 

None of the American volunteers was killed. Jack Cordonnier 
was hit over the heart by a bullet, which struck a rib and tore 
a nasty hole downward. Jack Janz was hit in the shoulder by 
a bullet; as he started toward the rear, a huge piece of shell 
casing went deep into his hip. 'I got it going and coming,' Jack 
afterward said. Frank Musgrave tumbled into a deep trench 
just as he reached the enemy lines, and dislocated his shoulder. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Finding a doctor who was following the wave of assault, he had 
the shoulder pulled back into place, and rejoined his comrades 
in the charge. Two of the Italians in the American squad were 

Both of the eyes of Blondell, a Swedish stretcher-bearer, were 
torn out by an exploding shell. Pechkoff's right arm was riddled 
with bullets near the shoulder, and was hastily amputated. 

The Moroccan Division by nightfall had driven a hole ten 
kilometres deep into the German lines. Such a rapid advance 
was entirely unexpected by the French high command, and the 
necessary reserves for holding the terrain gained did not arrive 
in time. The Germans re-formed their lines of resistance, and 
with fresh troops counter-attacked during the night. With rage 
in their hearts, the sadly decimated battalions of Legionnaires, 
Zouaves, and tirailleurs were forced to fall back, and retained 
only four kilometres of their dearly bought terrain. 

The Legion alone captured over one thousand unwounded 
Germans, including many officers. A band of Russian volun- 
teers captured in a machine-gun pit a Bavarian officer. Hearing 
them speak together, the Bavarian asked in good French, 'What 
language are you speaking?' ' Russian,' was the reply. 'What? 
There are Russians here?' 'Yes, a battalion.' ' But what regi- 
ment?' insisted the German. 'The Foreign Legion,' he was in- 
formed. ' Ah ! The Legion ! The Legion ! Then I am no longer 
astonished!' exclaimed the prisoner. 

Among the prisoners was recognized a Bavarian who had 
deserted from the Legion in Champagne, and had joined 
a Bavarian regiment brought up from the Champagne front to 
Artois to oppose the French attack. The deserter was speedily 
court-martialled and shot. 

The losses of the Legion were tremendous. Of the four thou- 
sand men who went into the attack, some seventeen hundred 
came through unscathed. Of the company in which was the 
American squad, fifty-five men out of the two hundred and fifty 


First Attacks 

who climbed out of the trenches on the morning of May 9 
answered the roll-call, when the regiment was drawn out of the 
firing line. 

The Legion gained its first citation in Army Orders: 

Second Marching Regiment of the First Foreign Regiment: Or- 
dered, May 9th, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Cot, to take 
with the bayonet a very strongly entrenched German position, 
launched itself into the attack, officers leading, with a superb enthu- 
siasm, gaining in a single bound several kilometres of terrain, in spite 
of a most violent resistance of the enemy and the violent fire of his 
machine guns. 


After the attack of May 9, there turned up in a Paris hospital 
Carl Jean Drossner, a San Francisco Jew, with a bullet hole 
through his left hand, and a beautiful story as to how the wound 
was received. Drossner's tale was that, as he charged the enemy 
lines alongside his captain, the latter fell wounded, and he 
picked him up and started carrying him to the rear. Another 
bullet passed through the American's hand and the captain's 
heart, but before the officer died, he found time to name 
Drossner a lieutenant on the battlefield, and to award him the 
Croix de Guerre. 

Drossner's comrades told an entirely different story. He was 
the only private soldier in the regiment possessing an auto- 
matic pistol, and it was said that when the order came to leave 
the trenches and charge the enemy position, Drossner shot him- 
self through the hand and hastened to the rear. 

Drossner had already had trouble in the Legion. When he 
arrived at the Lyon depot as a volunteer in the fall of 1914, he 
brought with him his mistress, and installed her at a hotel in the 
city. Representing himself to various Lyon merchants as an 
American millionaire, he bought on credit several thousand 
dollars' worth of jewelry and gave it to the woman. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Somewhat later, Drossner and his mistress were mobbed in 
a Lyon cafe, for standing up and shouting, ' Hoch der Kaiser!' 
They escaped imprisonment by pleading drunkenness. The 
woman left Lyon, and Drossner deserted from the Legion. He 
was caught at a French seaport, trying to get out of the country, 
and brought back to Lyon. 

Drossner was court-martialled, and sentenced to two years' 
hard labor. Upon the plea of his lawyer and the American 
Consul at Lyon, the sentence was suspended, and the American 
was sent to the front and given a chance to retrieve himself. 
The Lyon jewellers brought charges of swindling, but withdrew 
them when Drossner's mother appeared and promised to settle 
all outstanding bills. (The bills had not been paid several years 

The other Americans refused to have Drossner in their squad, 
when he arrived at the front, although he made many advances 
to them, and claimed to have been an officer in the United States 
Cavalry in the Philippines. 

Drossner passed from one Paris hospital to another, getting 
into trouble everywhere he went. Pretending to be a nephew of 
Mrs. Alice Weeks, mother of Kenneth Weeks, he hired by the 
month a handsome automobile, but never paid for it. He finally 
met in a hospital the daughter of a rich French manufacturer 
and married her, but the marriage did not last long. 

Drossner was discharged from the Legion. The correspondent 
of a New York newspaper wrote a two-page story featuring him 
as one of the great heroes of the war. When reproached with it, 
the correspondent replied: 'Yes, I know Drossner is an impostor, 
but his yarn made good reading, and got a big play in my 


The Legionnaires were pulled back from the firing line on the 
night of May 10, and went first to Mont-Saint-Eloi; the Ger- 


First Attacks 

mans shelled the town with heavy artillery, so the regiment 
marched on out of range to Tincques and Chelers, where the 
men rested, while the battalions were re-formed. Reinforce- 
ments arrived from the depots, and a battalion of eleven hundred 
Greeks came up from the Bois-le-Pretre sector. These Greek 
Legionnaires were handy knife-fighters. While in the Bois-le- 
Pretre trenches, a squad of them had once, just at nightfall, 
crawled over into an advanced German trench, which the enemy 
occupied only at night. Catching the Germans as they came one 
by one through the approach into the trench, the Greeks killed 
twenty of them with knives and crawled back into their own 
lines without losing a man. They did not like what they heard 
in Artois, however, and protested loudly against having been 
brought there, saying they had enlisted to go to the Dardanelles 
and fight the Turks. 

Early in June, the Legionnaires went into the trenches around 
Carency, just north of La Targette and Neuville-Saint-Vaast, 
which they had captured on May 9. On June 16 they joined in 
a grand assault directed against the German positions about 
Souchez, including the powerfully fortified works of the Cabaret 
Rouge, the 'Labyrinth,' and Hill 119. Pavelka wrote from 
hospital on June 10 a vivid description of the battle: 

'The attack commenced at noon on the 16th. It was led by 
the Moroccan Division, as on the 9th of May. Battalion B let 
go first in our sector, facing a most dreadful fire from machine 
guns, rifles, and shrapnel. The only thing for us to do was to 
cover the ground as quickly as possible, which we did, reaching 
the first of the Boche trenches to find they had fallen back to 
their second line. We took a short rest here rallying, as many of 
our boys fell on the way over. The Greeks were behind us, and 
soon came piling head over heels into the trenches where we were. 

'Everything was mixed up from now on, as there were two 
battalions, B and C, in the short space of about three hundred 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'The next move was even more difficult, for the Germans kept 
up a most terrible rifle and artillery fire in order to keep the 
reserve forces from coming up to our aid. But, nevertheless, out 
of the trenches we climbed, making for line number i as quickly 
as possible. Here I strayed away from my company, Neamorin 
and I being together. He soon got a bullet in the side; I laid him 
in a marmite hole, and pushed on. How many times I was com- 
pelled to lie down I could not say, but eventually I managed to 
reach that dear old second line of Germany. Some surprise was 
in store for me, you can bet. As I reached the edge of the trench, 
I noticed the gray caps of the Bavarians, and almost instantly 
I felt a stinging pain shoot through my left leg. A Bavarian had 
stabbed me with his bayonet; he then threw up his hands and 
yelled " Kamerad," but I blew his brains out. I dropped just in 
front of the trench. 

'The next was a mix-up of howling and hurrahing, for tirail- 
leurs, the Zouaves, and the Legion were all piling in on them. 
It was soon over, the Germans getting out and running for their 
lives to our rear, without arms and nobody stopping them. 

'I got into the trench now and the rest went on. The blood 
ran freely from my wound, so I put on the first-aid package. 
As I lay there I saw many wounded coming in, and ever so many 
prisoners. I looked out of my trench and saw our boys slowly 
gaining Hill 119, which was directly in front of me. It was easy 
to distinguish them, all having white cloths pinned on the back, 
and no sacks. 

' I made my way to the rear unaided, and reached the poste 
de secours, where I got a wagon to Camblin Abbey. There I met 
Larsen, with his jaw shot away; Zannis the Turk, with his hips 
torn off by a piece of shell, and others of our company. I heard 
that the captain was killed, and Kelly and Smith were wounded. 
... I've got one on you: I had ten packages of tobacco in my 
sack where you only had six. Well, you lost yours, and so did 
I mine.' 


First Attacks 

Frank Musgrave added to Pavelka's account: 

' Battalion A, which had suffered most on May 9th, reenforced 
B and the Greeks. We got out, and advanced slowly for a cou- 
ple of kilometres, following the attack. B had gone out, and 
I understand the Greeks refused to go out and we passed and 
went ahead of them. By night we were almost in touch with 
the Germans, and were going forward with fixed bayonets. 

'At daylight on the 17th we took and held a German trench 
far in the German territory, and though they tried to shell it 
down we held it all day. They advanced a battalion at four 
o'clock in the evening to carry it by storm, but, shelled out of the 
depression in which they had come up by the seven ty-flves, 
when they broke for the open they had to face such a furious 
fire from the Legionnaires that they fled for the rear and were 
exterminated to a man. 

'We were relieved at daylight the 1 8th by a French regiment. 
My battalion losses were not so heavy as May 9th, and mostly 
caused from shell-fire, although the battalion inflicted a good 
deal of loss on the Boches. But B was hit hard, and when we got 

back to Mingoville I searched in vain for the Americans The 

regiment never recovered from that stunt. I never suffered so 
much from heat, fatigue, thirst, and other breeds of misery as 
on that occasion.' 

The losses of the Legion on June 16 were even more terrific 
than on May 9. Thinking to avoid loss of life from their own 
artillery fire, the Legionnaires charged without sacks and with 
large squares of white cloth sewn on the backs of their coats. 
The artillery observers were instructed to watch these white 
squares and to keep the artillery barrage always directed in front 
of them. Unfortunately, the observers, who were stationed in 
tree-tops and on roofs, were killed early in the battle, and, as on 
May 9, hundreds of French soldiers were killed by their own 
artillery fire. 

Germans hidden in deep underground shelters came out after 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the waves of assault passed and fired on the attackers from be- 
hind with machine-guns and rifles. They had tried the same 
trick on May 9, and on June 16 two men in each squad in the 
Legion were given long knives and bags of hand grenades and 
instructed to clear out every shelter where foes might be lurking. 
Kenneth Weeks was one of the men entrusted with this danger- 
ous mission. 

When the first order to leave the trenches was given, the 
Greeks refused to obey. Colonel Cot, commanding the Legion, 
rushed over and argued with them, promising that they would 
be sent to the Dardanelles after the attack, and induced them to 
join in the charge. A regiment of Algerian tirailleurs advancing 
behind them probably hastened the decision, but once they got 
started, the Greeks did brilliant work. 

Some sections of Legionnaires got mixed in with the Zouaves 
and the tirailleurs and helped carry the 'Labyrinth,' where some 
of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting ever known occurred. The 
main body, however, stormed Hill 119, successfully carrying the 
extensive fortifications on the western slopes and the crest. 
Several companies broke far through the enemy's lines at the 
Cabaret Rouge, but were entirely cut off" and surrounded by the 
Germans. Every man in the detachment is supposed to have 
fallen, as none was ever heard from again. 

The supporting regiments failed to arrive, and nightfall found 
the greatly depleted band of Legionnaires stubbornly holding on 
to the crest of Hill 119, repelling counter-attack after counter- 
attack. The Germans kept up a terrific bombardment through- 
out the night and the following day, and the Legionnaires' 
supply of ammunition was virtually exhausted and the men 
dying of thirst and fatigue when relief arrived during the night 
of July 17. 

Few men answered the roll-call behind the lines. Harmon 
Dunn Hall, who had arrived with the reinforcements from 
Lyon just before the attack, was killed early in the battle. He 


First Attacks 

was one of a machine-gun section, and with his comrades rushed 
over to a captured German first-line post and set up his piece. 
The enemy was keeping up an intense fire, and the Legionnaires 
were poorly sheltered, as what had been the unprotected rear of 
the trench was now the attacked front. It was necessary to 
crouch low in order to be safe, but Hall kept putting his head up 
and looking out to observe the enemy's movements. 

' Keep your head down,' advised a sergeant. 

Til not duck my head for any damned Boche,' replied the 

A few minutes later a bullet crashed through Hall's brain. 
Near him fell his closest friend in the Legion, Joseph Ben Said, 
the favorite son of a Moroccan chief. 

Kenneth Weeks, Russell Kelly, and John Smith were listed 
as missing. Kenneth Weeks, after the battle of May 9, had been 
put in a squad of Italians, and some of his comrades who turned 
up later in hospitals reported that the last they saw of him he 
was dashing towards a machine-gun nest in the German third 
line, hurling grenades at the foe. Weeks had been cited for cool- 
ness and bravery during the storming of La Targette, and pro- 
posed for a corporal's stripes, it being understood that he was to 
take charge of the American squad. 

Kelly and Smith were reported seen in a German second-line 
trench; Kelly with a bullet through the thigh, and Smith with 
a bullet in the shoulder. Neither was dangerously hit, but both 
were too weak from loss of blood to crawl to the rear, as did 
some of their wounded comrades. The enemy counter-attacked 
later in the evening, and retook the line where the injured 
Americans were lying; they were believed to have been mas- 
sacred, as certain units of the German Army refused to take 
prisoner any soldier of the Legion. 

Lawrence Scanlan was first reported missing, but was later 
found dangerously wounded. He described his experience as 
follows: 'We all left the advanced trench together, but I soon 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

found myself in the Greek battalion, and with it I reached the 
first German trench. Some distance away I saw my captain and 
other Americans and I started over to them. Then machine- 
gun bullets hit me, smashing my thigh and an ankle. After 
lying fifty-six hours on the battlefield, I was found by stretcher- 
bearers and carried to the rear. I have seen none of my com- 
rades since that time.' 

Scanlan was decorated with the Croix de Guerre as he lay in 
hospital, being the first American volunteer to receive that 
honor. His citation in Army Orders called him an exceptionally 
brave Legionnaire, and mentioned his gallant conduct on May 
9 and June 16. 

Frank Musgrave was the only American in the attack who 
came through it unscathed, and was henceforth known through- 
out the Legion as 'Lucky' Frank. Corporal Didier was gravely 
wounded as he charged a German machine-gun nest, yelling and 
brandishing his rifle, and the veteran Legionnaire Godin was 
killed by a bullet through the head. 

All the Legion officers taking part in the attack were either 
killed or wounded and the surviving men were commanded by 
sergeants and corporals. 

Captain Wetterstrom, in whose company were most of the 
Americans, was killed. He was a Danish officer who had served 
for several years with the Legion in Morocco, and was one of the 
few officers untouched during the attack of May 9. His last 
citation in French Army Orders called him 'an officer of rare 
bravery, who gave proof always of a complete contempt for 
danger.' The flags over public buildings in Copenhagen were 
put at half-mast, when the news of Wetterstrom's death reached 

The celebrated Russian painter Koniakof was among the 
slain, as was one of the most unique characters in the entire 
Legion, a former priest who had been a Legionnaire for twenty 
years. Whenever he was scolded by an officer, this man would 


First Attacks 

often reply: 'How can you talk like that to a man who still has 
the power to make God descend into the Host? I am clothed 
with a divine character; and I am also a victim of love!' 

When he was twenty-five years old, the priest had seduced 
one of his fair young penitents, and eloped with her. She soon 
abandoned him, and to forget his sorrow he enlisted in the 
Legion. His only distraction was reading Latin classics, vol- 
umes of which he always carried with him in his sack. 

Blaise Cendrars, the gifted Swiss writer, had an arm shot 
away, and received the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de 

Immediately after the battle the Greeks were sent away to 
fight their age-old foes in the Dardanelles, and all the Italian 
volunteers who so desired were allowed to join their national 
Army, as Italy had declared war. A few days before June 16, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Cot had assembled his regiment, and called 
for all Italians who wished to go into the Italian Army to step 
forward. Not a man stirred. 

'What's the matter?' asked Colonel Cot. 'Don't you want to 
fight under your own flag?' 

'Yes, but after the attack,' came back the answer in chorus. 

On June 24 the three hundred men left in the Premier 
Etranger hastened back into the firing line and aided in repelling 
a tremendous German attack. The losses were heavy, and in- 
cluded two officers killed, and one wounded. Adjudant Tixier's 
section sheltered itself behind a parapet of cadavers, and held 
its own against an entire enemy battalion. Then what was left 
of the regiment went far to the rear for a real repose. 

The Legion had covered itself with glory in the two principal 
attacks of what was, next to Verdun, the most murderous battle 
of the entire war. The French lost something like one hundred 
thousand men killed in the struggle for the Artois Ridge. On 
May 9 and 10 alone, the number of French slain, wounded, and 
missing was over one hundred and seventy-five thousand. The 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

very flower of the French Army had been brought north of Arras 
for the battle. The Germans had been installed since the au- 
tumn of 1 914 on the long, isolated ridge, which is cut into two 
parts by the gap at Souchez village, and overlooks the entire 
Artois country. The capture of the ridge was of prime im- 
portance to the Allies, both strategically and economically. 
Behind it ran the Lille-Douai-Cambrai Railroad, used by the 
Germans as their main transversal line behind the northern 
front. The taking of Vimy Ridge would bring this railway under 
Allied artillery fire, while a further advance would cut it. 

North of the ridge were the rich Bethune-Lens coal-fields, the 
possession of which was important during a war which all 
leaders recognized would be a long-drawn-out affair. 

The French did not gain their main objectives, but the battle 
was not entirely a failure. A footing was secured on the ridge, 
thanks largely to the dash of the Moroccan Division and the 
Alpine troops fighting alongside them. For a moment the Ger- 
man front had been broken, and with proper support the men 
could have pushed on to an important victory. As it was, 
twenty-five square miles of territory were wrested from the 
enemy and held, and thousands of prisoners and many guns 

Kenneth Weeks's body was found between the lines when the 
French advanced near Souchez in November, 191 5. He was 
posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre with a striking 

Kenneth Weeks: An American citizen of a high intellectual culture, 
animated by the most noble sentiments, and having for France a pro- 
found admiration. He spontaneously enlisted at the beginning of hos- 
tilities, and has given proof of the most brilliant qualities during the 
campaign, and particularly distinguished himself June 16, 1915, during 
an attack against the German positions. 

Weeks was born at Chestnut Hill, near Boston, Massachusetts, 


First Attacks 

on December 30, 1889. Five of his ancestors came to America 
in the Mayflower. After studying architecture at Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology, he entered the Beaux-Arts in Paris in 
1 910. At the age of seventeen, he had written a one-act play, 
'The Victory of Sedan,' and he finally decided to devote himself 
to literature. Between 1910 and 1914 he published five books 
of plays, short stories and essays, the last volume, 'Science, 
Sentiments, and Senses,' appearing when he was already in the 

When Weeks first enlisted, he wrote his mother in America: 
'In defending France I hope to defend you.' He was especially 
noted in his regiment for his unfailing cheerfulness and his 
kindness to his comrades. Possessing a large fortune, Weeks 
shared all the comforts and luxuries he could obtain with the 
men about him. Pavelka related two characteristic anecdotes 
of the man: 

'We were au repos at Verzenay, and quartered in a big farm- 
house. Two of the old Legionnaires, who always chummed to- 
gether, were tormenting a young, undersized soldier, whom they 
were in the habit of bullying. Kenneth, who was sitting smoking 
in the courtyard, called to them to let him alone, which was 
only an encouragement to them to increase their torments. At 
that Kenneth arose and, knocking one down, was quickly 
knocked down himself. The other Americans, hearing the noise, 
came out, and there was a general fight, which was ended only 
by the officers interfering. Kenneth was always too good; he 
gave money and shared food and clothing sent him with us all. 
He even gave his wrist-watch to one of the men who wanted it. 

'I shall never forget when we were stationed in a little village 
north of Arras for a few days. The village was in ruins, and the 
church, as usual, had had its share of shells. Kenneth entered 
the church, and finding that the organ was uninjured, sat down 
and played. Some of the villagers, hearing the well-known voice 
of happier days, came to ask if he would play them a service, 



American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

which he did the following day. The boys went there in the 
afternoon, and he played for us.' 

Just before the attack on June 16, John Smith gave to Paul 
Pavelka an envelope, marked 'To be opened in case of my 
death.' After long inquiry amongst the Legionnaires who sur- 
vived the battle, including a number of wounded in hospitals, 
Pavelka and Paul Rockwell were convinced that Smith had 
been killed, and opened the envelope. It contained a slip of 
paper on which was written in pencil: 

'Please tell Mrs. James B. Taylor, Wooster, Ohio, that her 
son Earl is dead.' 

Correspondence with his mother revealed the fact that 'John 
Smith's' real name was John Earl Fike. His family had not 
heard from him for years. When he volunteered in the Legion, 
he had taken the name of a grandfather, Captain John Smith, of 
the Sixty-Second Ohio Volunteers, who fought in the Civil War, 
not because he had any reason to hide his identity, but because 
he evidently found it more romantic to fight under the name of 
a soldier ancestor. 

Fike's body was never found, nor was that of Russell Kelly. 
The latter's father, James E. Kelly, a New York lawyer, for 
years refused to believe that his son was dead. Reports came 
back from various sources that Kelly had been wounded, and 
was in hiding behind the German lines in Northern France or in 
Belgium. The uncertainty of his fate was heightened by a com- 
munication sent his father by an Englishwoman, saying that she 
had received a letter from a relative in the British Army, stating 
that he and two other English soldiers, together with an Ameri- 
can of the French Army named Kelly, had been hiding behind 
the German lines east of Souchez since the middle of June. 

Kelly had been badly wounded in the head, the letter said, 
and the four soldiers were being supplied with food and clothing 
by French peasants. The letter was written in September, 1915, 
and surreptitiously passed through the lines. 


First Attacks 

An adjudant belonging to Kelly's regiment sent word to the 
Lyon depot in January, 191 6, that he had seen Russell Kelly 
and two other Legionnaires prisoners in Belgium. He stated 
that one of Kelly's legs had been amputated, and that the 
American was very careful not to disclose his nationality. The 
International Red Cross at Geneva made a careful investigation 
of the matter, and reported that Russell Kelly's name did not 
appear on any list of prisoners held by the Germans. 

When he left the Lyon depot for the front, Russell Kelly wrote 
his father: 'I miss all my folks and often think of New York. 
I am carrying a talisman in the form of a Yale key which be- 
longs to the front door of our apartment. I have become at- 
tached to it and would feel its loss keenly. On the brace sup- 
porting the teeth is the word " Security." A person with a lively 
imagination might find some hidden meaning in this.' 

Kelly's talisman never brought him home. 

Chapter V 


Victor Chapman, who had been studying architecture 
in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, after having at- 
tended Harvard College, was touring in England with 
his family at the outbreak of war. He returned to France early 
in September, enlisted in the Foreign Legion, and was sent to the 
Third Marching Regiment of the First Foreign Regiment, whose 
depot was at the Reuilly Caserne, Paris. Alvan F. Sanborn, of 
Boston, Massachusetts, a graduate of Amherst College in the 
class of 1887, a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and 
a newspaper man and author who had been living in France for 
a number of years, although well over the usual age for military 
service, insisted upon being taken into the French Army and 
was sent to Reuilly Barracks, where other American volunteers 
kept arriving during several weeks. 

Most of the Americans who enlisted in Paris after August, 
1 914, were assigned to the Troisieme Regiment de Marche du 
Premier Regiment Etranger, which was at first called the ' March- 
ing Regiment of the Foreign Legion of the Entrenched Camp of 
Paris.' Among those sent to the Reuilly Caserne were Walter 
K. Appleton, Jr., of New York and Paris, a young scion of the 
well-known American family of publishers, who gave his calling 
as that of jockey; John Brown, a Boston Negro who was picking 
a banjo in a Montmartre orchestra when the war started; 
Christopher Charles, of Brooklyn, New York, an eighteen-year- 
old mechanic who crossed the Atlantic to fight; William E. 
Dugan, Jr., son of a Rochester, New York, shoe manufacturer 
and a graduate of Rochester University, who gave up a re- 


The Third Marching Regiment 

sponsible position with the United Fruit Company in Central 
America to come to France and enter the Foreign Legion; Frank 
Dupont, an American citizen of French extraction, already with 
five years in the Legion to his credit. 

There were Eugene Jacob, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, an 
elderly man who left his butcher and grocery shop in charge of 
his wife to hasten across the ocean and fight for France, and 
another middle-aged man, John Laurent, a New York actor. 

Others included Robert Mulhauser, of Cleveland, Ohio, born 
in the Far East of American parents who were in the exporting 
business, in which he himself engaged until he became a soldier; 
Phil Rader, a newspaper cartoonist and adventurer, with many 
addresses; Marius Rocle, of New York, seventeen years old and 
the youngest 1914 American volunteer; Michael Steinfels, of 
Chicago, Illinois, German-American parentage; Henry Walker, 
another Boston, Massachusetts, Negro and a chauffeur by 

On September 30 arrived Frank Whitmore, of Richmond, 
Virginia, a thirty-eight-year-old chicken farmer who had come 
to France as soon as he could sell out his business and get pas- 
f sage across the Atlantic, after the outbreak of war. 

Bartlett Brooke Bonnell, of Westfield, New Jersey, left his 
desk in a Wall Street stock-broker's office, arrived in Paris in 
September to enlist, and was also sent to Reuilly Caserne, with 
John G. Hopper, of San Francisco, who voluntered on the same 
day. Hopper was a distinguished mining engineer and explorer, 
and had worked with Herbert Hoover in Mexico, where he had 
developed gold and silver mines. Among many interesting ex- 
periences, he had spent a winter in Northern Alaska with an 
Esquimaux tribe; explored parts of the Arctic regions with 
Captain Raoul Amundsen; prospected in wildest Spain and 
found iron deposits; spent much time in Greece, where he made 
a geological map of Thessaly, Macedonia, and Crete, and dis- 
covered oil on the latter island. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The Troisieme Regiment de Marche was composed largely of 
foreigners who had been permanent residents of Paris, and was 
officered chiefly by firemen from the Paris Fire Brigades (the 
Paris Fire Department is a military organization, subject to 
Regular Army control and regulations), with Colonel Thiebault, 
chief of the Gendarmerie of the Seine Department, as com- 
mander. There were very few veteran Legionnaires in the regi- 
ment, and many of the volunteers belonged to the most seden- 
tary professions, which caused the period of training to be long. 
Matters were further complicated by the presence in the regi- 
ment of a number of apaches, the very dregs of the foreign popu- 
lation of Paris. These men had been rounded up by the police, 
marched to the recruiting bureau, and told either to enlist in the 
Foreign Legion or go to jail. Contrary to popular tradition, 
these rascals did not make good and brave soldiers, but, on the 
contrary, did everything in their power to postpone the day for 
going to the front. Fortunately, they were in the great minority 
in the regiment. 

The lengthy period of training was very irksome to the Amer- 
icans, and there was general rejoicing among them when the 
regiment left on November 28 for the Somme front. Before 
quitting Paris, John Hopper bought a metal wreath, put on it 
a ribbon labelled 'Prix d 'Encouragement ,' and announced that 
it would be awarded to the first member of the regiment to be 
killed. The march north was slow, because of bad weather and 
the poor condition of some of the men, and it was December 15 
before the Legionnaires went into the trenches around Frise. 
There conditions were very bad: the dugouts were poorly made, 
there was mud everywhere, and often water ankle-deep in the 

A few days after arrival at the front, Phil Rader obtained 
leave to go to a large town in the rear to get fitted with new 
glasses, on the pretext that his old ones were broken. He did not 
stop at the town, but continued on, and got across the Channel 


The Third Marching Regiment 

to England. In London he met an American newspaper man, 
who wrote a very lurid series on life in the Legion from accounts 
furnished by Rader, whose name was signed to them. These 
stories were among the first published in the United States pur- 
porting to describe the life of the American volunteers at the 
front in France. 

Rader next enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps. When 
he had received sufficient instruction as an aviator, he borrowed 
an English comrade's motor-cycle, rode across England to 
Liverpool, sold the motor-cycle, and embarked for America. 
He obtained some success and money lecturing in the United 
States, and several months later fell to his death in an aeroplane 
while doing exhibition flying. 

Eugene Jacob was named corporal, and put in a machine-gun 
company, along with Victor Chapman. Chapman struck up a 
great friendship with George Preston Ames, a volunteer from 
Paraguay and also a machine-gunner. Ames was at one time 
the central figure in a sensational 'kidnapping case' featured by 
American newspapers. His father was from Baltimore, Mary- 
land, and had been established for years as a dentist in South 
America, where he married. His wife died when George was a 
baby, and George was brought up by his father's sister in Balti- 
more. When he became large, his father wanted him back; the 
aunt refused, and the father 'kidnapped' him and took him 
back to South America. The aunt preferred charges against 
George Ames's father, but did not get the boy back. 

John Hopper was put in charge of the map-making for the 
regiment, with a number of men under his orders. He was es- 
pecially popular with his section because he supplemented the 
army fare with delicacies paid for from his own pocket. 

Eugene Jacob was buried alive by the explosion of a bomb, 
hurled over by a trench-mortar in the near-by enemy lines. 
Chapman and Ames braved an intense machine-gun fire, and 
dug Jacob out, little the worse for the experience, Jacob got 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

busy, and devised a bombproof shelter, which came to be used 
throughout the regiment. 

Chapman told of his regiment's first Christmas in the 
trenches in a letter to an uncle: 

'December 26, 191 4 

'Xmas in the trenches was interesting but not too exciting. 
Beginning the eve before, "conversations" in the form of calls: 
" Boches" "Ca va," etc. In response: "Bon camarade" ciga- 
rettes" "nous boirons champagne a Paris" etc. Christmas 
morning, a Russian up the line, who spoke good German, wished 
them the greetings of the season, to which the Boches responded 
that, instead of nice wishes, they would be very grateful to the 
French if the latter buried their compatriot who had lain before 
their trenches for the last two months. The Russian walked out 
to see if it were so, returned to the line, got a French officer, and 
a truce was established. The burying funeral performed, a 
German colonel distributed cigars and cigarettes, and another 
German officer took a picture of the group. We, of course, were 
one half-mile down the line, so did not see the ceremony, though 
our lieutenant attended. No shooting was interchanged all day, 
and last night absolute stillness, though we were warned to be 
on the alert. This morning, Nedim, a picturesque childish 
Turk, began again standing on the trenches and yelling at the 
opposite side. Vesconsoledose, a cautious Portuguese, warned 
him not to expose himself so, and since he spoke German made 
a few remarks showing his head. He turned to get down and — 
fell! a bullet having entered the back of his skull: groans, a 
puddle of blood.' 

In later letters, Chapman said: 

' I have run across several South Americans — fine speci- 
mens — good shots, generous, who crossed the ocean since the 
declaration to fight. And they are not afraid of risking their 
skins. One I know is going out to-night between the trenches 


The Third Marching Regiment 

to try to catch a Boche. I talked to an American who went out 
on a fool's errand to entice a German out last night without 
success. A Russian was to play wounded and ask help: the in- 
nocent supposition being that kind-hearted enemies would come 
out. They had not even begun groaning when the Germans sent 
up rockets and chased the couple with " Moulins a cafe" 
(Maxim guns). 

'Jacob is a wonder. We had roast pork yesterday, and this 
morning, head-cheese. The day before, veal. Jacob's manner 
of preparing these left-over parts of the animal makes them 
more delicious than the usual parts. I am sure he has educated 
more than half Rhode Island as to how to live. He told me how 
he revolutionized the butchers in Pocasset. 

'I continue to run across amusing characters. A Bedouin 
who ran away from his native land because he killed the chief. 
He travelled all through North Africa and paid his way because 
he could read the Koran, and is here because a French officer 
saved his life when he had the smallpox; whereupon he swore to 
serve France in her next war. Ames talks Spanish to him; he 
knows very little French. 

'I just saw Dugan, a little American chap who tells me of the 
petit poste where he watches from time to time. The trenches of 
his company are eight hundred metres from the enemy, but each 
side has long boyaux which lead out to little advance forts where 
a section at a time watch for half a day. Thirty-odd metres off 
there is a similar German post. Of course they interchange ex- 
pressions of disgust, especially at sunrise. I have noticed this 
before. I suppose it is because at that hour the officers of neither 
side are yet on the job. One Boche spoke up in French : " Don't 
shoot! What's the use!" A Legionnaire thereupon fired off a 
gun, whereupon the other responded, " Bande de sa/auds!" Oh, 
some of these Germans speak excellent French and better 
Parisian slang. One German rather got the section's goat, as 
Dugan expressed it. For the longest time he upbraided them, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

his voice coming from some where near by. They searched all 
about and peeped from every corner of the little trench, but 
never a sign. At times he would call back to his friend in the 
German post, "Hans," who roared with laughter. Dugan now 
suspects that he must have been inside of an abandoned tin 

The Third Marching Regiment lost heavily during the win- 
ter. Michel, a genial Texas Negro who came over for the war, 
was shot through the head as he looked out of a trench. Whit- 
more was wounded in the foot by a hunk of shrapnel and spent 
several weeks in the hospital at Beauvais. Chapman got a 
bullet through the fleshy part of the arm, but had a first-aid 
bandage put on and refused to leave the trenches. Hopper was 
injured in the spine, and lay in the hospital for months partially 
paralyzed. Sanborn came down with pneumonia from standing 
up to his knees in water while on outpost one freezing night, and 
almost died. He and Hopper were both invalided out of the 
Legion when they were discharged from the hospital. 

Reinforcements came up from Paris, amongst them four un- 
usually fine Americans: Henry Weston Farnsworth, of Boston, 
Massachusetts; Edmond Charles Clinton Genet, of Ossining- 
on-Hudson, New York; Joseph Lydon, of Salem, Massachu- 
setts; and David E. Wheeler, of Buffalo, New York. 

Farnsworth was educated at Groton, where he remained six 
years, and at Harvard College, where he entered in the fall of 
1908, after a summer abroad. In early November of 1909, 
wanderlust struck him, and he slipped quietly away from col- 
lege, and worked his way to England as deck-hand on a cattle- 
boat. From there he sailed steerage in a small boat bound for 
Australia; at Freemantle, the first port of call, he was knocked 
unconscious in a side street, and robbed of everything he had, 
even his shoes. He got back to the steamer, landed at Mel- 
bourne, and spent seven months up-country, where he worked 
on several sheep stations. 


The Third Marching Regiment 

Returning home, he graduated with his class at Harvard in 
191 2, and sailed the next week for Europe. He visited Buda- 
pest, Constantinople, thence by boat to Odessa, and travelled 
up to Moscow and St. Petersburg, joined his family in Paris in 
September and returned to America. The outbreak of the Bal- 
kan War in the autumn of 191 2 drew him back to Europe for a 
while, and he wrote a book of his experiences, 'The Log of a 
Would-be War Correspondent.' Going to Mexico during the 
troubles there in 1913, he wrote articles for the Providence 
'Journal,' on which newspaper he later worked for a time as a 

He returned to Mexico when the United States sent troops to 
Vera Cruz in the spring of 191 4, and was in Mexico City when 
the World War started in Europe. He immediately sailed for 
France, and first drilled with an independent corps organized 
in Paris by an Englishman named Bles, a veteran of the Boer 
War. This corps being refused by the French War Department, 
Farnsworth enlisted on New Year's Day, 191 5, in the Foreign 

Edmond Genet was a great-great-grandson of 'Citizen' 
Genet, first Minister to the United States of the French Re- 
volutionary Government in 1792. The French Revolutionary 
leaders became displeased with the 'Citizen's' conduct in Amer- 
ica, and ordered him to return to France. Knowing that if he 
returned he would be massacred, as had been most of his friends, 
the 'Citizen' settled in Albany, New York, and married a 
daughter of Governor Clinton. 

Edmond, the young descendant of this marriage, was not 
yet eighteen years old in the fall of 191 4, and was serving in the 
United States Navy. He had been at Vera Cruz in the spring, 
aboard the battleship Georgia. He tried without success to 
obtain his discharge, after the outbreak of the World War, and 
while on leave in New York, applied to the French Consulate 
for a passport, stating that he must go to France to inquire 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

about a family estate. He was obliged to go to Washington to 
obtain his passport, and to declare his age as twenty-one. After 
some delay, he sailed for France and entered the Legion. 

Joseph Lydon was also very young. He had worked as cook 
on a coastwise freight vessel, and as street-car conductor in 
Boston. Eager to fight the Germans, he crossed the ocean on a 

Wheeler was about forty-two years old, and already had seen 
much of the war as surgeon in a military hospital near the front 
before he joined the Legion. He was a graduate of Williams 
College, and received his surgical training at the Columbia 
University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was a keen 
sportsman, had travelled widely, hunted big game in Canada, 
and had spent considerable time exploring the unknown regions 
of Labrador. He had a son in boarding-school in America, and 
a wife who had come to France to nurse in a military hospital. 

American college fraternities were well represented in the 
trenches in France in 191 4-1 5. William Dugan and William 
Thaw were both Alpha Delta Phis, which Dugan joined at 
Rochester University and Thaw at Yale. Achilles Olinger was 
initiated into Alpha Tau Omega at Lehigh University, and 
Kiffin and Paul Rockwell belonged to the Washington and Lee 
University chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Alvan Sanborn was a 
member of Psi Upsilon at Amherst College, Kenneth Weeks of 
Delta Kappa Epsilon at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 
and David Wheeler joined the Northern Order of Kappa Alpha 
at Williams. Russell Kelly was a member of the Southern Order 
of Kappa Alpha at the Virginia Military Institute. In addition, 
Chapman, Carstairs, Farnsworth, King, and Stone had all be- 
longed to good clubs at Harvard College. 


Chapter VI 

The other regiments of the Foreign Legion, deathly tired 
of trench life, greatly envied the Premier Etranger its 
gallant part in the battle of Artois. When the news of 
Kiffin Rockwell's wound reached his former comrades of the 
Second Regiment, Alan Seeger, Capdevielle, Jack Casey, Fred 
Zinn, and others sent him enthusiastic messages of congratu- 

The Second Regiment was moved from the Aisne sector, 
where it had spent a terrible winter, and on May 23 was trans- 
ported in auto-busses to the Reims sector recently abandoned 
by the First Regiment. Edgar Bouligny was slightly wounded 
during a midnight brush with a German patrol between the lines 
near Sillery, but after a few days in the infirmary reported for 
service again. Charles Sweeny was promoted sous-lieutenant ', 
the first American volunteer of 1 914 to become an officer in the 

On July 4, the American Legionnaires were granted the first 
leave of absence since enlisting, and were allowed forty-eight 
hours to spend their national holiday in Paris. The leave was 
granted them at the request of Mr. F. B. Grundy, correspond- 
ent in Paris for the New York 'Sun.' Mr. Grundy was an 
Englishman; beyond the age for military service himself, he be- 
came the sincere friend of the Americans in the Legion, and did 
everything within his power to help them. His office was head- 
quarters for American volunteers when on leave in Paris. 

In addition to its heavy losses along the front, the effective of 
the Legion was further lessened by the departure for their na- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

tional army of the Belgian volunteers, and the liberation of the 
Russians, some of whom went into other French regiments, only 
a few staying in the Legion. Many of the Russian volunteers 
had made excellent soldiers, and their losses were heavy. 
Among the killed were the sculptor Vertepoff, the painter 
Krestovski, the revolutionary writer Stetoff, Jakovleff, leader 
of the bloody Moscow revolt, the anarchist Tadoskoff, and a 
host of other men famous or notorious in their native land. Al- 
most the first Russian Legionnaire wounded was the elderly 
Onipko, member of the first Douma; another volunteer was 
Lebedeff", destined to become Minister of the Navy under the 
Bolshevist regime. 

The Second Foreign Regiment was afflicted with a battalion 
composed almost entirely of Russian Jews and political exiles, 
which was permeated from the start with a spirit of revolt and 
anarchy. Many of its members had enlisted with no idea of ever 
going to the front. This battalion revolted in the early summer 
of 191 5, and refused to leave for the trenches when ordered to do 
so. The colonel commanding the regiment gave the battalion 
forty-eight hours for reflection. As the Russians still refused to 
march, he then court-martialled and had shot eleven of the ring- 
leaders, all Jews. Two of the rebels executed were the sons of a 
powerful St. Petersburg Jewish banker. This man appealed to 
the Imperial Government, to which he had loaned money, and 
within a week after the ringleaders of the Battalion F mutiny 
were shot, a Russian general appeared at the regimental head- 
quarters and demanded that all the Russian volunteers in the 
Legion either be liberated or allowed to transfer to other regi- 
ments of the French Army. The Russian Embassy in Paris 
backed the request, which was granted by the French War 
Ministry. Henry Farnsworth wrote of the departure of the 
Russians in his regiment: 

'Long ago, during the bleak bombarded days in Capy, the 
Russian Jews in the regiment set up a petition to get out of it 



(each hoping to himself to find a loophole of escape during the 
change of regiments). The other day, while we were peacefully 
in the trenches of Tilloloy, the petition bore fruit. Now they 
are to go to Russia or to a French Regiment — like Ahab, they 
leave unwept.' 

The strength of the Third Marching Regiment was so low- 
ered by its losses in the trenches, and the departure of the 
Italians, Belgians, and Russians, that it was decided to dissolve 
the regiment. On July 13, 1915, its remaining five officers and 
eight hundred and ninety-two Legionnaires were pulled out of 
the Santerre trenches, which they had held since June, and were 
sent to Montbeliard, where they went into the already cele- 
brated Premier Etranger. With the arrival of these men and of 
reinforcements from Lyon, the Premier was able to muster two 
full battalions. 

The two regiments of the Legion now went together to the 
Vosges Mountains for two months of well-earned rest in the tran- 
quil Alsace sector of the front. There was very little trench duty 
or swinging of pick and shovel for the men; the two battalions 
of the First Regiment and the three of the Second marched 
along the picturesque military roads winding through the 
wooded mountains behind the French lines, climbed the Ballon 
d' Alsace and other famous peaks, camped in the open, and re- 
cuperated health and spirits in the vivifying air of the pine 
forests. It was the most delightful existence the men had known 
since the German menace first came out of the east. 

The only casualties during the entire two months were in 
Bouligny's company, while it was quartered at Rodern, a tiny 
Alsatian village just over the hill from the enemy lines. A spy 
signalled from the hilltop that the company was having a roll- 
call in the street near the church; the German batteries shelled 
the spot, and Lieutenant Buffet and several men were killed. 
Bouligny himself narrowly escaped, a shrapnel ball cutting his 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Victor Chapman left the Legion on August i to enter the 
Aviation Service, somewhat to his sorrow. He wrote his father 
on July 21 : 

'I shall regret it sincerely if my recall comes now before we 
have an attack. The regiment, as I told you before, did in- 
credible things at Arras — I now predict that my heavenly 
prospects are just going to miss each other by hairbreadths — 
I shall be transferred to the Aviation just before this company 
goes into action and makes a brilliant attack. And the war will 
end just before I get my license and go to the front.' 

Chapman hated to leave the friends he had made in the Le- 
gion; especially Heredia, a Malaga Spaniard who translated 
Mark Twain into Spanish, and was a newspaper reporter in 
London at the outbreak of war; Nedim Bey, a Turk who was 
sent to Paris to study by the Turkish Government before the 
war, and had volunteered in August, 1914, and Cluny, an en- 
tertaining ex-sea-captain from Portuguese West Africa, who 
was full of tales of voyages around the world in command of a 
sailing vessel. A South American friend, Jose Garcia Calderon, 
a gifted writer, painter, and architect and son of a former Presi- 
dent of Peru, had left the regiment some weeks before to be- 
come an aviator. 

Henry Farnsworth, Chapman's schoolmate at Harvard, and 
close comrade in the Legion, wrote: 

'Victor Chapman, at his family's suggestion, has put in ap- 
plication for transfer to the Flying Corps, but I am fond of the 
Troisieme de Marche, for all its grumbling and cursing; so as 
long as you are agreeable and our captain stays with us, I too 
shall stay — The Foreign Legion is not a bit like Groton School 
or even Harvard College — and in my opinion has a far better 
spirit. Rules are many and strict. You break one and get 
caught. You make no excuses and are given a punishment. 
There is no ill-feeling on either side.' 

Farnsworth was consoled over Chapman's departure by the 



presence of a Fiji Island Prince, S. L. V. Sukuna, to whom he 
had become much attached during their service together in the 
trenches. Sukuna was one of the interesting personalities in the 
Foreign Legion. His father was king of one of the larger islands 
of the Fiji group, while his maternal grandfather, King Thak- 
ombau, was the last great king of all the Fijis, who ceded the 
islands to the British Crown in 1874. 

As a child, Sukuna did not get along well with his father, and 
at the age of ten ran away from home. Rowing over to a tiny 
island far from his father's domain, he took up his residence at 
the hut of a native fisherman. Here he remained for nearly 
four years, his father knowing where he was, but being too much 
interested in other things to send for him. The representatives 
of the British Crown finally became uneasy at seeing the lad 
growing up in ignorance. They feared that as a prince he might 
later stir up trouble among his people, so with the consent of his 
father he was sent to England to be educated. He was a student 
at Oxford in August, 1914. He at once attempted to enlist in 
the British Army, but was refused, so he immediately crossed 
to Paris and joined the Foreign Legion. 

Farnsworth wrote home about Sukuna: 

'When on guard I spend hours and hours imagining myself at 
home next autumn, that is, assuming the war ends this summer; 
also I talk with Sukuna about it all, and he knows you and 

Mamma and Papa, the horses, the polo I in turn know his 

little island, two hundred miles from Suva, where his father is 
chief; the island of Tonga, where he spends his time when possi- 
ble; his room, Wadham College, Oxford, his friends there, and 
his chiefs at the Colonial Office in London, where he once 
worked as a kind of deputy commissioner from Fiji. I think I 
am possibly more fond of him than of any man I know. He's 
quite as amusing as the average, better educated, and of course 
knows the world well — in the travelling sense, I mean; also, to 
be comrades and share everything as we do through a winter 


jimerican Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

campaign in our section is no mean test of character. I don't 
mean to seem to brag, but really he and myself are the only ones 
who came up from Paris together who have not let their nerves 
go a bit. Sukuna despises petty things and keeps his sense of 
proportion just what it was. 
: 'I propose to bring Sukuna home with me, if the war ends be- 
fore September. The term at Oxford does not open till Novem- 
ber, and he has much reading to do before it does. He is black 
and has Polynesian features. I wonder if we at home are too 
parochial to stand for him. He is a chief at Fiji and a swell in 
England, with a crown agent to manage his money affairs, and 
all that sort of thing. I am afraid that just the people who 
would run their heads off to meet the people in England that he 
visits, and who write and send things to him, would be the ones 
to make themselves snobs if he appeared at Dedham with no 
other recommendation than he had been my comrade in the 
Foreign Legion.' 

Another English-speaking black man in the Legion was a tall, 
fine-looking Gold Coast Negro, who had been educated in the 
United States to be a missionary. 

My father, sir, and my grandfather, both fought in the 
Foreign Legion,' he would say, 'and I think it only fitting that 
the third generation should serve under its flag. Besides, I feel 
that I can serve God as well by fighting the Germans as by 
returning to the Gold Coast to be a missionary to my people.' 

This man was a great friend of Dr. Everett Wheeler, as was 
an extremely quiet, courageous Englishman, John Elkington, 
who, despite being over fifty years old, marched along as stur- 
dily as the youngest Legionnaire. 

Kiffin Rockwell transferred from the Legion to the Aviation 
on September i. After being discharged from hospital, he spent 
the month of July convalescing in Paris, and there he ran across 
his old comrade William Thaw, in from the front, where he had 
been flying, to get a new aeroplane. Kiffin Rockwell's wound in 

1 06 


the leg made it painful for him to make long marches, and Thaw 
suggested that he try to get into the Aviation. Kiffin put in at 
the French War Department a request for the transfer, and 
after some opposition from the Legion chiefs, loath to lose a 
good soldier, it was granted a month after he rejoined his 

Victor Chapman and Kiffin Rockwell first met at Camp 
d'Avord, the Aviation training school, where Chapman ar- 
rived a few weeks late, having first flown at the front as ma- 
chine-gunner and bomber. Chapman wrote: 

'I find a compatriot I am proud to own here... called Rock- 
well. He got his transfer about a month ago from the Legion. 
He was wounded on the 9th of May. He gives much the best 

account I have heard "There is nothing like it; you float 

across the field, you drop, you rise again. The sack, the three 
hundred and twenty-five extra rounds, the gun, have no weight. 
And a ball in the head and it is all over — no pain.'" 

Kiffin Rockwell wrote on the same day: 

'An American named Chapman, from the Troisieme de 
Marche, arrived here this morning and seems to be a very fine 
fellow indeed.' 

The entire Moroccan Division — the Legion, the Zouaves, 
and the Algerian tirailleurs — was passed in review on Septem- 
ber 13, in a gorgeous scenic setting in the Vosges Mountains, 
and battle-flags were presented to the marching regiments of the 
First and Second Foreign Regiments. The old motto borne on 
the Legion's flags, 'Valeur et Discipline,' was replaced by a 
new one, 'Honneur et Fidelite,' and the banner of the men 
who had distinguished themselves north of Arras was decorated 
with the Croix de Guerre. 

Henry Farnsworth wrote of the ceremony: 

' I was in the ranks beside Kraimer (a veteran Legionnaire) 
to-day, when, the division being drawn up, M. Poincare and 
M. Millerand and General de Castelnau and a lot of others pre- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

sented the regiment with a flag decorated with the grande croix 
de guerre. When the collective bugles crashed out with the 
" Au drapeau" and the twenty thousand rifles flew up to the 
present arms, there were tears in his eyes and he whispered, 
"Chez nous a Bel a Bes on porte la Legion d ' Honneur." It was 
characteristic that the Legion received its flag before the others, 
and that our colonel gave the commands.' 

Captain Junod, who had just rejoined the Legion after con- 
valescing at his home in Geneva, depicted the event also: 

'I was greatly moved by the ceremony of the 13th, the be- 
stowing of the flag to the Premier Regiment Etranger. At the 
moment where, on a marvellous day, our new flag began to un- 
roll its three colors over the regiment, I began to weep like a 
child — 

'In the haze of the setting sun, Mont Blanc appeared in the 
purple distance.' 

Captain Junod's wounds of May 9 were not yet entirely 
healed. He had hastened back to his corps before his conva- 
lescence leave expired, because he had learned that the Legion 
was soon to participate in the mightiest effort yet made by the 
the French against the German hosts. 


The Legion left the calm mountainous Alsace sector on 
September 15, and after a two days' ride in freight trains 
reached before dawn of the 17th a point just beyond Chalons- 
sur-Marne. After a day of repose, the two regiments marched 
at night to a position back of the lines beyond Suippes, and 
camped in the pine woods, which decades before were set out 
in an effort to enrich the poor Champagne soil. 

That a movement of vast moment was afoot was evident 
everywhere. Towns, villages, and countryside were overrun 
with troops and the impedimenta of a huge modern army on the 



Facing the camera, left to right: Tony Paullet, Charles Sweeny, Alan Seeger, Elov Nilson 
Robert Percy, George Delpench, Fred Zinn, Siegfried Narvitz, Boh Scanton 
Dennis Dowd, Jack Casey, Paul Pavelka, Ferdinand Capdevielle {seated) 
Sergeant Terisien {seated) 


Joseph Lydon receiving the coveted distinction from a French general 


eve of great battle. From every point along the railroad, march- 
ing lines of uniformed men swung out along the eastbound 
roads in countless numbers, each regiment followed by its train 
of supply wagons. Courtyards, squares, and fields were packed 
with artillery caissons, ammunition carts, Red Cross automo- 
biles, ex-Paris motor-busses for rushing troops to various points 
along the firing line. Tethered all about were pack-mules for 
the carts and machine-gun ammunition and horses for the 
batteries and wagon convoys. 

Huge herds of lowing cattle to provide fresh beef for the 
troops were parked here and there, near temporary warehouses 
piled high with great loaves of army bread. In addition, sup- 
plies of hard tack and tinned meats were distributed as reserve 

Steel helmets, an innovation in modern warfare just adopted 
by the French Army, were given out. The men grumbled at 
first at having to wear them, but not many hours later were 
most thankful for the protection they afforded. New model 
gas-masks, and a special grease to be rubbed on the hands, face, 
neck, and other exposed parts of the skin as a shield against 
liquid fire thrown by the German lance-flames, were issued. 

The French Army had reached its peak of strength, and there 
was a vast increase over the earlier months of the war in the 
supply of heavy and field guns and ammunition. The French 
High Command aimed to break through the German lines along 
a twenty-five-kilometre front between the river Aisne and the 
Moronvilliers hills, and inflict upon the enemy a crushing de- 
feat by turning his left flank north of Reims and his right in the 
Argonne, and capturing his armies before they could be with- 

The German position to be attacked was several miles deep, 
carefully organized with mazes of trenches and boyaux, and 
with deep underground shelters capable of resisting the fiercest 
bombardment. The position was further favored by the nature 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

of the terrain, and protected by dense belts of barbed-wire en- 
tanglements, with machine-gun positions covering every possi- 
ble angle of approach. 

Both sides had learned lessons from the battles in Artois, and 
the French leaders were taking no chances of their assault fail- 
ing a second time for lack of proper support. Every branch of 
their army was represented on the Champagne front: actives, 
reserves, and territorials of the line infantry; hussars, dragoons, 
mounted light infantry, and other cavalry divisions; Alpine and 
foot chasseurs; the professional French soldiers of the Colonial 
brigades, Zouaves, stalwart coal-black Senegalese; swarthy 
Arabs and Negroes from Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, and other 
French possessions in Africa; heavy and light artillery — all 
were there ready to go into action alongside the Legion. 

There could be no question of a surprise attack: the stupen- 
dous bombardment preceding it would have warned the Ger- 
mans, even if their spies and their aerial observers had not al- 
ready learned what was brewing. For the first time in history, 
aeroplanes in considerable numbers were taking an important 
part in a battle. German aeroplanes flew over the French 
positions all day long, in spite of anti-aircraft cannon and 
aerial combats, and caused the French soldiers to keep out of 
sight as much as possible. 

French aviators flew far behind the German lines, to observe 
and report what was going on there. Among them were two of 
the American Legionnaires of 1914, William Thaw and James 
Bach. The latter had the misfortune to become the first Amer- 
ican to fall into the hands of the Germans, on September 23. 
Bach was sent on a special mission with a French pilot, Ser- 
geant Mangeot. Their task was to land two French soldiers, 
dressed as civilians, behind the enemy lines near Mezieres, 
where an important railway bridge was to be blown up. 

The two aviators succeeded in landing their passengers, who 
hastened away with charges of high explosives. Bach then 

1 10 


started off in his aeroplane, but, looking back, saw that his 
comrade had smashed his aeroplane in attempting to take off 
over the rough ground. Without hesitating, although well 
aware of the risk he was running, Bach turned his machine, 
landed again, and picked up Mangeot. Trying to take off the 
second time, he ran into a tree, and wrecked his aeroplane. 

The men hid in the wood for a time, then tried to make their 
way back into the French lines. They were captured, however, 
and were court-martialed three times by the Germans on the 
charge of being spies. With the help of an able Berlin lawyer, 
they were acquitted and sent to a prison-camp, where Bach 
spent the remaining three years of the war. 

Bombardment of the German lines began at daybreak of 
September 11 and continued without interruption for three 
solid days and nights. The din of the cannon was beyond de- 
scription. Long-range guns sent an avalanche of huge shells 
onto the enemy crossroads and concentration points behind his 
lines, delaying and tremendously damaging his reserves. Short- 
range and field pieces smashed the German barbed-wire belts 
and pulverized his trenches. Millions of shells of all calibres 
were rained on the German lines, while his batteries replied 
ably and effectively. 

A mean, cold rain added to the misery and discomfort of the 
situation. The Legion, joined to the Nineteenth Colonial Bri- 
gade, hugged the earth in the sparsely wooded hills between 
Souain and Perthes-les-Hurlus, and prayed for the attack to be- 
gin. Over fifty Americans were scattered about in its ranks, the 
largest number of American Legionnaires to participate in any 
one battle of the war. Three of them, 'Lucky' Frank Mus- 
grave, Jack Cordonnier, and Paul Pavelka, were veterans of the 
Artois attacks; the remainder knew only trench life and local 
affairs. Cordonnier and Pavelka were just over their wounds of 
the early summer; Pavelka while in hospital had had the ex- 
perience of giving English lessons to a class of young girls in a 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

boarding-school located next door to the place where he was 
under care. 

While waiting for the attack, some of the Americans from the 
Deuxieme Etranger and the Troisieme de Marche were talking of 
how glorious it must be to take part in a bayonet charge, and 
asked Musgrave for his opinion. 

' If you have ever seen the Chicago slaughter-houses,' 'Lucky' 
Frank replied, 'you have already seen something like the car- 
nage you will witness here.' 

Undeterred by the rain, the grand assault was launched at 
nine-fifteen on the morning of September 25. The Second 
Foreign Regiment joined the second wave of attack; the First 
Regiment remained in reserve. With fixed bayonets, the French 
troops rushed forward through torrents of machine-gun and 
rifle bullets, shrapnel balls, shell splinters, and clouds of as- 
phyxiating and tear gases, and in a whirlwind charge carried 
the first line of German trenches. Some of the battalions ad- 
vanced a full kilometre in the first fifteen minutes of attack, 
broke into the wood along the Souain-Tahure road, and reached 
the slopes to the west of Tahure, where they were checked by 
the second line of enemy defense, insufficiently damaged by the 
preliminary bombardment. 

The Legionnaires followed the first wave of attack, supported 
it, and captured in a bayonet and grenade fight the Wagram 
earthworks, the Eckmuhl trench, and many machine guns and 
a battery of seventy-seven cannon in the C-2 wood. At vari- 
ous points, where the barbed-wire belts were intact and un- 
usually well-protected machine-gun nests installed, the fighting 
was exceptionally bitter, but by late afternoon all the Germans 
were driven out of their first-line defenses. Alan Seeger wrote: 

' In some places they still resisted in isolated groups. Oppo- 
site us, all was over, and the herds of prisoners were being al- 
ready led down as we went up. We cheered, more in triumph 
than in hate, but the poor devils, terror-stricken, held up their 



hands, begged for their lives, cried " Kamerad" "Bon Fran- 
cais" ; even " Vive la France." It is inconceivable that a French- 
man, forced to yield, could behave as I saw German prisoners 
behave, trembling, on their knees, for all the world like crimi- 
nals at length overpowered and brought to justice.' 

The Second Foreign Regiment's casualties were many. 
Colonel Lecomte-Denis, commander of the regiment since 
December, 1914, when Colonel Passard was promoted briga- 
dier-general, was wounded early in the attack, and most of the 
other officers and non-coms were killed or wounded. 

Sous-lieutenant Charles Sweeny was shot through the chest 
by a machine-gun bullet. The regimental surgeon said he must 
die, and advised him to call a priest, but Sweeny refused to give 
up, and struggled for life. After lying for several days at the 
dressing-post, too weak to be moved, he was sent to hospital. 
He was given an excellent citation in Army Orders, and was 
decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor; 
the first American citizen to receive the latter medal during the 
World War for military services. 

Sergeant Bouligny was gravely wounded in the groin by a 
shell-splinter, shortly after he cleaned out with hand grenades a 
machine-gun nest that was holding up the advance of his sec- 
tion. Jack Casey was painfully wounded as he dashed forward, 
and saw most of the other men of his squad torn to pieces by a 
huge shell just after he fell. Tony Paullet, who had so enter- 
tained his comrades by his boxing bouts with Bob Scanlon in 
Alsace, was shot through the body by machine-gun bullets; 
Emil Dufour, Wilfred Michaud, and Fred Landreaux were 
gravely wounded, and Nick Karayinis was lightly cut several 
times by bullets and shell-splinters. Sergeant Terisien's right 
arm was literally shot off. 

Morlae was buried by the explosion of a heavy shell late in 
the afternoon. Dennis Dowd, Robert Soubiran, Fred Zinn, 
David King, and two or three other Legionnaires quit the shal- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

low trench in which they were lying, and braving a heavy fire 
unearthed the unconscious sergeant and brought him back to 
life. Every one of these men had sworn time and again to kill 
Morlae at the first occasion, yet they unhesitatingly risked their 
own lives to save him. 

The First Foreign Regiment did not charge on September 25, 
but suffered heavy losses in the reserve trenches from the en- 
emy bombardment. In addition, a battery of French seventy- 
fives fired short, and shells began dropping among the Legion- 
naires. Bewildered by the bombardment from the rear, a panic 
was threatened for a moment, but was checked by Captain 
Junod, who climbed out of the trench and walked calmly along 
the parapet in full view of the enemy. Seeing his coolness, the 
men quieted down. 

French cavalry dashed forward to charge the Germans who 
were fleeing toward their second position some four kilometres 
behind the first. Some of the horses fell into the trenches upon 
the Legionnaires, and killed and wounded a number of men. 

Early on the morning of the 26th, the entire Moroccan Divi- 
sion, including both regiments of the Legion, was moved into a 
valley north of Souain. Its mission was to draw the enemy's 
fire in that direction, so that reinforcements could pass along 
the wooded ridge to the east and prepare an assault against the 
Butte de Souain and the Navarin Farm. 

The Legionnaires passed two days and nights in a perfect 
inferno, without firing a shot, and sheltering themselves as best 
they could from torrents of rain and German shrapnel and gas- 
shells. The men took refuge of a poor sort in the underbrush 
and in shell-pits. The only consolation was piping hot coffee 
and food: the field kitchens were brought right up into the line, 
and the cooks worked heedless of the bombardment. 

The morning of the 27th was foggy and misty, and fighting 
was temporarily suspended, while both armies paused to get 
their breath. About noon the fog lifted, and an enemy aeroplane 



flying low discovered the exact position of the Legionnaires in 
the wood. Smoke bombs were dropped, showing the German 
gunners where to fire, and a heavier shelling than ever set in. 
Many men were killed, but it was impossible to move to a better 
shelter. The watches were arranged that night so each man got 
about two hours' sleep, the first real rest for more then seventy- 
two hours. 

The advance of the French troops had been along an uneven 
line, and the exact position of the German infantry was un- 
known. Patrols were sent out to locate the enemy position, early 
on the morning of the 28th. Marius Rocle volunteered for one 
patrol, and Frank Musgrave for another. Rocle's group accom- 
plished its mission and returned to the French lines after suffer- 
ing some losses. About an hour later, Musgrave returned alone. 

'Where is your sergeant?' demanded the adjudant. 

'Hung up in the Boches' barbed wire, along with my corporal 
and other comrades,' replied the American. 

'Lucky' Frank reported that the barbed-wire belts defending 
the German second position were untouched by the French 
bombardment and absolutely intact. He and his comrades had 
stumbled right up against the entanglements hidden in the 
pines and underbrush, and had met with a terrible machine-gun 
fire, from which he alone escaped. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Cot, impatient at seeing his regiment in- 
active under a bombardment that was rapidly cutting it to 
pieces, asked the general commanding the army corps to allow 
the Premier Etranger to attack. The regiment was given the 
mission of charging the earthwork or fortin in the Bois Sabot — 
the Horseshoe Wood — on the right of the almost impregnable 
Navarin Farm. This fortin was of almost a horseshoe shape, 
spreading out along the foot and sides of the gently sloping 
Butte de Souain. It had been prepared with great care and 
skill, and was regarded by the German Army engineers as one 
of the strongest points in their entire line of defense. A heavy 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

bombardment had been directed against it, but the barbed-wire 
belts were so well hidden in the trees and underbrush, and the 
trenches and shelters so deep and so well covered with armored 
cement, that the position was virtually intact. 

The Legionnaires were to make a blind sacrifice assault on the 
front of the fortin, and while the defenders were occupied with 
them, two other divisions were to attack on the west flank and 
carry the Navarin Farm. 

The Premier Etranger started forward for the attack about 
three-thirty on the afternoon of the 28th. The men advanced 
through communication trenches and approaches hastily dug in 
the position already conquered from the enemy, and passed 
battalion after battalion of French soldiers waiting their turn to 
charge. The French looked curiously at the Legionnaires, ask- 
ing who were these men that were being allowed to precede 
them in the attack. When the word was passed along that it was 
' 'la brave Legion] there went up mighty applause and cheers of 
encouragement. The departure trenches, where the enemy had 
lately made a desperate stand, were reached. The field was 
strewn with dead and dying. The Algerian tirailleurs had al- 
ready made two assaults against the Bois Sabot, and both times 
had been driven back with terrific losses. Ordered to charge for 
a third time, they started forward, but withered before the 
storm of lead, and broke for the rear. Edmond Genet wrote: 

'The Colonials who had been killed in the charge lay in 
ghastly wrecks before the German line, the sickly pallor of their 
hands and faces in awful contrast with the pools of blood about 
them. The wounded were being carried back as fast as pos- 
sible — Meanwhile we had started our advance in solid col- 
umns of fours, each section a unit. It was wonderful — that slow 
advance. Not a waver, not a break, through the storm of shell 
the Legion marched forward. Officers in advance with the 
commandant at their head; it inspired us all to courage and 
calmness. We met the fleeing tirailleurs and our officers tried to 



turn them back. I saw our commandant, wrath written all over 
his face, deliberately kick one Arab to make him halt in his 
flight. Shells were bursting everywhere. One lost his personal 
feelings. He simply became a unit — a machine.' 

Changing into single file and quickening their pace into a 
rapid trot, the Legionnaires crossed a clearing and charged 
straight into the mouth of the horseshoe. 

A heavy stream of lead from machine guns and rifles caught 
them from in front and raked them from the sides. With terrify- 
ing precision and a whining, tearing sound, shrapnel shells burst 
overhead, but the line never faltered. Whole sections fell as if 
mowed down by one sweep of a giant scythe, but others leaped 
forward into their places. 

Men pitched forward into graves freshly dug by bursting 
shells, to be immediately covered deep with earth by a fresh ex- 
plosion. A veritable death-trap seemed to have been laid for the 
Legion, but each man who went down fell facing forward. At 
points in the line the stream of lead was so thick that falling 
men were turned over and over and rolled along the ground like 
dead leaves before a late autumn wind. Somehow or other a few 
men lived to get through it and reached the barbed-wire belts; 
the wire-cutters were lost or thrown away, but with butts of 
rifles passages were pounded through, and small isolated groups 
of Legionnaires leaped into the trenches and fought there with 
bayonets. But they were too few in number to carry the fortin> 
and died fighting against overwhelming numbers. 

The companies under Captains Junod and Bernard, leading 
the assault, were virtually annihilated. Just before the charge, 
Captain Junod addressed his men, saying: 'Mes en/ants, nous 
allons a une mort certaine, mais nous allons tacher de mourir en 
braves. En avant!' (' My children, we are going to certain death, 
but we are going to try to die like brave men. Forward!') 

Captain Bernard, a Dane, was the first officer killed. Mortally 
wounded just as he reached the woods, he propped himself up 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

against a tree, called out 'Grades a moi!' ('Non-coms to me!') 
gave his last instructions, and shook hands with many of his 
men as they filed by. 

Both the battalion chiefs, Commandants Burel and Decleve, 
and Captain Junod were killed as they reached the barbed-wire 
entanglements. Junod was riddled with bullets, and fell shout- 
ing, 1 En avant, mes enfants! A la mortV ('Forward, my child- 
ren! To death!') 

Not an officer who went into the attack came back whole. 
Henry Farnsworth fell at the edge of the clearing, his spine 
broken by a bullet. Sukuna dropped beside him, and dug a little 
trench, but, before he could get his friend into it, a second bullet 
passed through Farnsworth's throat, killing him. Sukuna swore 
his native oath of vengeance, and advanced on the Germans, 
only to fall in his turn with his thigh smashed by a bullet. Not 
far away was killed Samuel Gache, of Buenos Ayres, a graduate 
of Edinburgh University who joined the Legion on July i, 191 5, 
and arrived at the front just in time for the attack. 

A young Portuguese volunteer, Raphael de Carvalho, son of 
the famous writer, carried away by his enthusiasm reached the 
enemy entanglements at the very far end of the horseshoe and 
was killed there, his body hanging on the wires. Jury, the veteran 
Legionnaire of the old American squad in Champagne and Ar- 
tois, was killed, but Corporal Didier, just out of hospital, passed 
through the charge unhurt. 

Dr. David E. Wheeler got well into the Horseshoe Wood, 
where the calf of his leg was torn away by an explosive bullet. 
Wheeler dropped and bound up his own wound, then turned his 
attention to his wounded comrades scattered thickly around 
him. He always carried with him a first-aid kit, and was able to 
ease the agony of some of the more terribly hit Legionnaires by 
administering morphine injections with a hypodermic needle. 
Among those he helped was his English friend, John Elkington, 
whose right leg was smashed by dum-dum bullets. After ex- 



hausting the contents of his kit, Wheeler crawled painfully back 
to a dressing-post, carrying with him a desperately wounded 
man whose only chance of life was speedy attention. 

Depositing his comrade at the first-aid station, which was al- 
ready overflowing with wounded, Wheeler continued on toward 
the rear. A battalion of Senegalese advancing to the attack 
came along, and met Wheeler in a narrow boyau. The American 
was bloody and muddy; he had thrown away his greatcoat, and 
his jacket was not the regulation one of the Legion; he could 
speak little French. The Senegalese, convinced that he was a 
German spy trying to escape, were about to execute him then 
and there when a French officer arrived. After some discussion 
the officer realized that Wheeler was really a Legionnaire, and 
sent him on rearward. Stretcher-bearers finally picked him up, 
and he was sent first to a military ambulance at Chalons-sur- 
Marne, then to the American Hospital at Neuilly, where his 
wife was a nurse. 

Brooke Bonnell's leg was almost severed near the hip by 
machine-gun bullets. It was related of him that he picked up 
two abandoned rifles, and using them as crutches made his way 
back to the dressing-post, where he fainted. The surgeons im- 
mediately amputated the leg. 

Daniel William Thorin, of Canton, South Dakota, who had 
volunteered in the Legion on June 29, 191 5, arrived at the front 
from the training camp at La Valbonne, just in time to take part 
in the battle. Paul Pavelka wrote as follows about how he con- 
ducted himself: 'Early in the attack Billy Thorin was struck in 
the head by a piece of shrapnel. He refused to go to the rear, but 
kept on. A few minutes later he was again hit, and toppled over. 
I knelt and looked at him, and he was stone dead.' 

Thorin was not dead, however. He came to, crawled unaided 
to a dressing-post, and was sent to hospital with a big piece of 
his scalp missing and a hole in his shoulder. 

Charles Trinkard was hit twice in the shoulder; the first bullet 



American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

struck just over his heart, but was deflected by a safety razor he 
carried in his breast pocket, and tore a nasty wound upward. 
Trinkard was just back from a long stay in hospital with fever, 
and had been shifted from the Second to the First Foreign 
Regiment at La Valbonne. 

Frank Whitmore and Christopher Charles were both wounded 
charging through the pines in the Horseshoe Wood, and Henry 
Walker fell with several bullets in the legs and thighs. John 
Brown was lifted high in the air by the explosion of a huge shell 
and hurled into a deep communication trench, the fall paralyz- 
ing him. 

Edmond Genet and a young Italian volunteer dashed forward 
so rapidly and with such ardor that they found themselves alone 
at the far upper end of the wood. They stopped, dropped flat 
behind a bush, and waited for their comrades to catch up with 
them. Dead tirailleurs from the previous charges were lying all 
around, and the German fire was dreadful. No Legionnaires 
arrived to continue the charge with Genet and the little Italian: 
all their comrades had fallen killed or wounded. 

Genet said to his comrade: 'They are all dead here; the section 
must be behind us; shall we beat it back?' 

The Italian nodded, and the two boys started cautiously back. 
Before they had gone far, the Italian fell; Genet kept his head, 
and got safely back to the departure trenches, without ever 
understanding how he did it. 

None of the men who came out of the attack untouched ever 
knew how they escaped death or injury. Facing the enemy fire 
was afterward likened to trying to go out in a heavy rainstorm 
without being hit by a single raindrop. 

The survivors made their way back to the support trenches 
after nightfall. Out of the first two companies, of two hundred 
and fifty men each, to rush forward, thirty-one answered the 
roll-call. One adjudant, with his clothing riddled by bullets, was 
the only one left of the officers and non-coms. 



The Bois Sabot was taken from behind two days later by 
soldiers from two other divisions. In the jortin were found 
thirty-two machine-gun nests and block-houses, and several 
batteries of field cannon, mine-throwers, and trench mortars. 
On the parapet of a trench lay one of the Legionnaire cooks; he 
had asked to participate in the charge, and he was wounded just 
as he reached the enemy trench. Knowing he would be killed if 
discovered alive, for forty-eight hours he lay there and feigned 

In a heap of bodies was found the chief doctor of the Premier 
Etranger. He had followed the first wave of assault to care for 
the wounded. The Germans captured him, and because he was 
carrying a revolver lined him up, shot him, and threw him out 
among the dead. The doctor was desperately wounded in two 
places, but his life was saved. 

The great French offensive in Champagne was ended. An 
advance averaging four kilometres had been made all along the 
twenty-five-kilometre front attacked. The French High Com- 
mand had hurled into the furnace four hundred and twenty 
battalions, with a loss of eighty thousand men killed, and one 
hundred thousand wounded and ill. Thanks to their formidable 
fortifications, the natural strength of their positions, and to the 
weather, which was wholly unfavorable to the attackers, the 
Germans had used only one hundred and ninety-two battalions, 
and with them checked at their second line of defense the French 
assaults. The only foothold gained in this second line by the 
French was at the Navarin Farm, due to the sacrifice of the 
Premier Etranger and the dashing courage of the chasseurs and 
the line infantrymen. The Germans still could say 'Gott mit 
uns, y but their morale was sadly shaken: they had lost twenty- 
three thousand prisoners, one hundred and fifty guns with much 
material, tens of thousands of men killed and wounded, and 
their supposedly invincible army was forced back along a wide 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The two regiments of the Legion were decimated. Two com- 
mandants were among the killed, along with four captains and 
ten lieutenants. Among the latter was Lieutenant de Mon- 
tesquiou de Fezensac, killed the 25th as he led the Americans' 
company forward. Educated to be an officer, he had left the 
French Army after the Dreyfus affair, when a notoriously bad 
Minister of War attempted to spy upon the political opinions 
and affiliations of the officers. A descendant of the famous poet 
and general Montesquiou-Fezensac, he became a writer and one 
of the leaders of the Royalist party in France. Well along in 
years at the outbreak of war, de Montesquiou de Fezensac 
volunteered, and was assigned as officer to the Foreign Legion. 

Another man of note among the killed was Sergeant Ferdi- 
nand Vandamne. Examination of his papers discovered that in 
reality his name was Delpech, and that he was a son of a French 
Deputy. Refused by the French Army because of partial deaf- 
ness and facial paralysis, Delpech posed as a Belgian engineer, 
and managed to get into the Legion, where he became a ser- 

Sergeant Karaman Khan Nazare Aga, a Persian Prince and 
son of the Minister of Persia in Paris, was among the wounded. 
He had volunteered in August, 1914, and was with the Ameri- 
cans at Toulouse. 

Both regiments of the Legion were cited in French Army 
Orders : 

Deuxieme Regiment de Marche du Deuxieme Stranger: 

September 25, 1915, threw itself forward to the assault of the en- 
emy positions with a superb dash and spirit, taking many prisoners 
and capturing numerous machineguns. 

Deuxieme Regiment de Marche du Premier Etranger: 

During the operations from September 20 to October 17, 191 5, 
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Cot, has given proof of the 
finest qualities of courage, of spirit, and of endurance. September 28, 



with an admirable spirit of sacrifice, rushed forward to the assault of a 
position which it was necessary to take at any price, and, despite the 
extremely violent fire of the enemy machineguns, arrived into the 
German trenches. 

The flag of the Deuxieme Etranger was decorated with the 
Croix de Guerre, and a second palm added to that of the Premier 

Dr. David Wheeler was decorated with the Croix de Guerre, 
with the following citation in Army Orders: 

Although wounded himself September 28, 191 5, with the very great- 
est calm he carried under a violent musket fire one of his grievously 
wounded comrades. 

Another citation accompanying the Croix de Guerre read: 

Marius Rocle, an excellent and courageous soldier; September 28, 
191 5, he offered spontaneously to take part in a patrol sent out under 
a violent fire to reconnoitre the German trenches. 

Frank Musgrave received the Croix de Guerre', his citation re- 
called his courage and his sang-froid in Artois on May 9 and 
June 16, and the part he took in the patrol and charge of Sep- 
tember 28. George Delpeuch was awarded the same decoration, 
for having captured single-handed five Germans while acting as 
liaison agent on September 25, and it was given Fred Landreaux 
because of the brave part he played in the assault on the Wag- 
ram trenches. 

The French 'Journal OfficieF published the following citation: 

The Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre are conferred upon 
John Ford Elkington, Legionnaire in Company B 3 of the First For- 
eign Regiment: Although fifty years old, has given proof during the 
campaign of a remarkable courage and ardor, giving to every one the 
best example. He was gravely wounded September 28, 191 5, rushing 
forward to the assault of the enemy trenches. He has lost the use of 
his right leg. 

This citation came to the attention of King George of Eng- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

land, and shortly afterwards the 'London Gazette' printed the 
following official notice: 

The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the reinstate- 
ment of John Ford Elkington in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the 
Royal Warwickshire Regiment with his previous seniority, in con- 
sequence of his gallant conduct while serving in the ranks of the For- 
eign Legion of the French Army. He was accordingly reappointed 
Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Warwickshire Regi.nent, with senior- 
ity from 6th April, 1910, and to count service in the rank towards re- 
tirement on retired pay as from 14th February, 1914. 

Thus was brought to light one of the finest stories of the war. 
Elkington entered the British Army as a subaltern when nine- 
teen years old. After thirty years' service, during which he 
fought in the Transvaal and other Colonial campaigns, he came 
to France in August, 1 914, in command of the same regiment he 
had joined as a youth. 

During the first terrible weeks he did brilliant work, but at a 
crucial moment he gave a wrong order, was court-martialled, 
and the 'London Gazette' had the following War Office an- 

Royal Warwickshire Regiment. — Lieutenant-Colonel John F. 
Elkington is cashiered by sentence of a general court-martial. Dated 
September 14, 1914. 

Colonel Elkington said while in hospital: 

'About a fortnight after the notice appeared in the papers I 
was in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. I joined under my own 
name; it would not have done to take another man's name. 
Many of the men in the Legion wore medals — medals of all the 
wars for the last twenty years. I could not wear mine even if I 
had wanted to — I was cashiered, and had no right to them any 

' I was recognized only once. We were marching in the Cham- 
pagne country, and had just stopped to drink at a stream when 



a military motor went by. Some one in the car called out, 
"Hullo, Elkington," and I was afraid that I would be given 
away. It was the only voice from the past that came to me, and 
a few minutes afterwards I was stepping it out heel and toe along 
the dusty road, a private in the Legion. 

'There was an American with me called Wheeler, a famous 
surgeon. He came over and joined the French Red Cross. He 
had tired of that, and joined the Legion. I met him first march- 
ing up to the front. I thought he was a tramp, and I expect he 
thought I was one. When we got to Lyon, I went down to have 
a meal in the big hotel. There I saw the American sitting over a 
big dinner and he saw me. From that time on we were friends. 
We saw that neither was a tramp. We marched together, ate to- 
gether, and became great pals. He was a fine chap and did not 
know what fear was, and helped to make it a lot easier for 

'During the first night of the Champagne attack, Wheeler 
showed his coolness. There was a false cry for us to charge, and 
the Third Company, in which we were, started forward with 
fixed bayonets. The commandant of the battalion, seeing the 
mistake, jumped in front of the advancing and excited men and 
tried to check them. One of the sergeants of the Third helped 
him and Wheeler, with more sang-froid than the rest, also helped 
him. The check succeeded, and the commandant took Wheel- 
er's name. The commandant met a soldier's death directly in 
front of Wheeler during our attack on the 28th. 

'Wheeler and I went into the charge together and fell to- 
gether, both shot in the leg. He gave me first aid, and looking at 
my leg said: "Old fellow, they will have to take that off." Then 
he fainted across my leg and hurt me like the devil. But he 
saved my life.' 

Another English volunteer badly wounded on September 28 
was Ralph Hadley. Hadley was living at San Diego, California, 
when the war started. He returned to England, and in Novem- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ber enlisted in the British Army. He was sent to a training camp 
at Dover, and after months there despaired of ever getting to 
the front in France, so deserted in April, 1915, crossed the Chan- 
nel, and enlisted in the Foreign Legion. 

While Hadley was in the hospital recovering from his wound, 
the British Government discovered his whereabouts, reclaimed 
him from the French military authorities, took him back to 
England, and court-martialled him on the charge of desertion. 
He was acquitted and felicitated for his brave spirit by his 
judges, and was sent back to France with an English regiment. 
He later contracted tuberculosis in the damp and muddy 
Flanders trenches, and was forced to enter a sanatorium. 

Ralph Hadley's brother, Ernest, was in business in Paris in 
August, 1914, and was one of the leading members of the British 
Volunteer Corps which entered the Foreign Legion. He was 
badly wounded by shell-splinters during a bombardment of the 
trenches held by the Deuxieme Etranger near Craonnelle in 
November, 1914, and after months in hospitals was invalided 
out of the service with the use of one hand permanently lost. 


Among the Legionnaires injured during the Champagne battle 
was John Paul Du Bois, of San Francisco. He was badly bitten 
in the shoulder by an enraged horse, and was sent away to the 
hospital. From there he got in touch with the parents of the 
Count de Montesquiou de Fezensac, told them he had been 
the intimate friend of that officer and had seen him killed, and 
induced them to give him money. 

Du Bois was the only real 'man of mystery' among the 
Americans. He gave his calling as that of bartender, but he was 
a man of far more than ordinary intelligence and education. It 
was whispered that he was a graduate of Leland Stanford Uni- 
versity; he had a wide fund of knowledge, was an accomplished 



musician, and often entertained his comrades at the piano when 
the occasion presented itself. 

Du Bois was an avowed anarchist and in constant correspond- 
ence with Emma Goldman and other notorious leaders of that 
party. An open enemy to all authority and discipline, he often 
had trouble with his officers. At Craonnelle he struck his cap- 
tain; he was court-martialled, and the death penalty was de- 
manded against him. He defended himself so cleverly that he 
got off with a sentence of only five years in the penitentiary bat- 
talion; in addition, the sentence was suspended, and he was sent 
back to the trenches and given chance to clear his record: a cita- 
tion in Army Orders for bravery would automatically wipe out 
the punishment. 

In October, a regular system of leaves of absence was insti- 
tuted throughout the French Army: each soldier was to have 
eight days' permission every three months, to spend with his 
family or friends. The soldiers were granted these leaves in ro- 
tation, so many men of each company at a time. 

Almost the first American Legionnaire to get a leave of ab- 
sence was Edward Morlae. He came to Paris shortly after the 
end of the Champagne battle, changed his uniform for civilian 
clothes, had his passport put in order, hastened across the 
French border into Spain, and at Gibraltar took a boat for 
America. He was officially declared a deserter, and posted as 
such at the depot of the Foreign Legion. 

When he landed in the United States, Morlae went immedi- 
ately to Boston, and called at the office of the 'Atlantic 
Monthly.' Alan Seeger had been contributing poetry to that 
magazine, and Morlae introduced himself to Mr. Ellery Sedg- 
wick, the editor, as a comrade of Seeger's. He exhibited medals 
he claimed to have won in France, and told such thrilling tales 
of his experiences there that articles were written in the 'At- 
lantic Monthly's' office and published under Morlae's name. 

When the first of the deserter's articles appeared, in which he 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

described the Foreign Legion as a conglomeration of outcasts, 
rascals, murderers, and thieves, there was great indignation 
among the American Legionnaires. They had been glad to get 
rid of Morlae, and considered his desertion something for him 
to settle with his own conscience. They objected to their corps 
being slandered and vilified, however, and numerous letters of 
protest, including a' formal statement from Colonel Metz, com- 
mander of the Legion's depot, that Morlae was a deserter and 
had not been decorated with the Medaille Militaire, were sent to 
Mr. Sedgwick. 

Chapter VII 


General de Castelnau had announced the end of the 
French offensive in Champagne, after the capture of 
Navarin Farm, but there was still plenty of fighting to 
be done there. The new front, won at such bitter cost, must be 
conserved, and the kinks in the line straightened out. The 
Germans were reacting vigorously, with destructive bombard- 
ments and continual counter-attacks by their infantry. 

The Legion took its full part in the fighting. After the fatal 
charge in the Bois Sabot, the remnants of the two regiments 
were pulled back into the battered reserve trenches, and the 
companies and battalions re-formed. The Legionnaires camped 
in the shell-beaten woods, sheltering themselves in holes often 
deep with water and mud, over which they put brushwood and 
old tent covers in an attempt to keep out the rain. 

William Dugan, Paul Pavelka, and Frank Musgrave made 
for themselves by hard labor a particularly dry and comfortable 
shelter. ' Lucky ' Frank had a premonition, which he imparted to 
his two comrades; they deserted their shelter at dark, and slept 
out in the open under the pines. The next morning they found 
the shelter totally demolished by a huge shell which had fallen 
upon it during the night. Their packs and other effects left in the 
shelter were also destroyed. 

Fred Zinn was hit in the side by a shell-splinter, and at first it 
was thought that his lung was pierced. Examination at the 
hospital showed the missile had been stopped by two ribs, which 
were broken. 

The men who had been killed during the great charges were 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

buried as rapidly as possible, a sad and gruesome task for the 
survivors. Officers, non-coms, and privates were laid together in 
great common graves, with all their names on one large cross. 
The Legionnaires who had been slain in the Bois Sabot were all 
interred near where they fell, but as soon as it became possible, 
Mr. William Farnsworth, father of the heroic Henry, had built 
on the crest of the hill above Souain a beautiful cemetery, one of 
the finest in France, to which the bones of his son and his son's 
comrades were transferred. On a splendid monument above the 
crypt are engraved the names of Captain Edouard Junot, Henry 
Weston Farnsworth, and their fellow Legionnaires from many 

On October 7, the Legionnaires occupied the dangerous 
trenches in the Bois des Vandales. A German attack was ex- 
pected at any moment, and the men kept on the qui-vive. Joseph 
Lydon lay with a detail of men between the lines at night on lis- 
tening-post. The Germans started a heavy bombardment of the 
position, and all the Legionnaires except Lydon crawled back to 

A shell exploded near by, and rolled Lydon over. A huge piece 
of the shell-casing cut his right foot neatly away at the ankle. 

' I felt a sharp pain in my left foot where small bits of the shell 
lodged,' Lydon related afterwards, 'but I did not know that my 
right foot was gone until I tried to stand up. I never saw that 
foot again. I left it on the battlefield and crawled back to a 

Lydon was awarded the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de 
Guerre — the first American volunteer to receive the former 
decoration — and was given a beautiful citation in French 
Army Orders, which called him an 'excellent soldier,' and said: 

At an advanced post outlook he had his foot cut to pieces by a shell- 
splinter. He repressed every sigh, although he was suffering intense 
pain. To an officer who encouraged him he answered: 'It is nothing, 
my Captain; it is for France.' 


The Second Winter in the Trenches 

The official ' Historique du Regiment de Marche de la Legion 
EtrangereJ in the only passage devoted to American volunteers, 

Lydon is an American. He is one of those who came to fight in 
France at the very beginning of the war: he had vaguely heard Lafay- 
ette spoken of. 

He scarcely knows how to express himself in French and is nothing 
of the intellectual like Alan Seeger or the aristocrat like Kenneth 
Weeks. He is a simple fellow, of a jovial humor, who laughs easily. 

He knows enough French, however, to say with good humor to his 
comrade Genet (killed later in the Aviation) who pities him for having 
a foot cut off and other wounds: 'On s'Stait engage pour mourir four la 
France; je nai quun pied de moins. Vive la France 7' ('We enlisted to 
die for France; I have only one foot less. Long live France!') 

The German attack did not materialize, and after forty-eight 
hours in first line, the Legionnaires left the Vandals' Trenches 
and went into reserve, in the remains of the former German posi- 
tions in the Bois Guillaume and the Bois des Bouleaux. 

The Legion was by now so reduced in strength that all sorts of 
rumors were current in the ranks as to what was going to be 
done with it. Some said that it was going to be dissolved, and its 
members liberated, or sent into French line regiments; others, 
that it was going to be sent to Morocco. The French War Min- 
istry did entertain the latter idea for a time. 

The Americans were notified that they could transfer to a 
French line regiment, or remain in the Legion, at their choice. A 
number of them decided to change to the One Hundred and 
Seventieth Line Infantry Regiment — les Hirondelles de la Mort 
('the Swallows of Death'), which had been fighting alongside 
the Legion since the beginning of the Champagne battle. Alan 
Seeger wrote of the transfer: 

'Most of the other Americans have taken advantage of the 
permission to pass into a regular French regiment. There is 
much to be said for their decision, but I have remained true to 

I3 1 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the Legion, where I am content and have good comrades. I 
have a pride particularly in the Moroccan Division, whereof 
we are the first brigade. Those who march with the Zouaves 
and the Algerian tirailleurs are sure to be where there is most 

On October 17, the Legion was relieved in the trenches by the 
One Hundred and Seventieth Line Regiment, and made an all- 
night march back^'toward the rear, about which Genet wrote: 

'So relieved and glad were we that our time in Champagne 
was at last over that we sang and whistled almost the entire 
march, tired as we were. Toward dawn we camped in a wood a 
few kilometres south of a town called Cuperly. We were there 
three days getting fixed up. All had a good hot bath, washed 
their clothes and cleaned everything up. Late in the afternoon 
of the 20th the Division Marocaine entrained at a small place 
east of Chalons-sur-Marne and Champagne and its horrors were 
left gladly behind.' 


A comic element of relief from the strain of battle was afforded 
the American volunteers in the late fall of 1 91 5. Theyhadhadno 
news of Harry Collins since that ex-sailor had been sent away to 
Northern Africa, and had almost forgotten his existence. 

Suddenly there came a message from Collins, in the form of a 
two-column letter printed under huge headlines in the Novem- 
ber 30, 191 5, Paris edition of the 'New York Herald.' 

After several introductory paragraphs, the writer suggested 
that he introduce himself, as follows: 

' I am Harry Cushing Collins, the American boy from Lowell, 
Massachusetts, who, at the outbreak of this terrible conflagra- 
tion which is devastating the whole of Europe, first aided in the 
formation of a body of mounted troops for scouting purposes, 
which was put at the disposition of the English Government, 



Left to right: Elov Nikon, Bob Scanlon, Marius Rode, Dennis Dowd 
Ferdinand Capdeuielle, David King 

Left'to right, hack row: Paul Pavelka, Jack Cardonnier, Frank Musgrave, Bob Scanlon 
Front row: William E. Dugan, Jr., Eugene Jacob, Michael Stein/els, Marius Rocle, 
Charles Hoffecker, Walter K. Appleton, Jr. 

The Second Winter in the Trenches 

and who then organized the "American Volunteer Corps," 
which, being incorporated into the Legion Etr anger e (Foreign 
Legion) of the French Army, has rendered many valuable 
services to our sister republic, France. 

'I, setting the example, contracted an engagement myself in 
the Legion for the duration of the war, and have, up to a few 
weeks ago, been fighting at different points along the front in 
France and Belgium.' 

The boy-hero went on to tell that as a result of his vast and 
varied experience in the fighting line, the French Government 
suggested that he take a body of untried recruits out to the res- 
cue of invaded Serbia. 

'In spite of my natural reluctance to leave all my American 
comrades, I consented to this proposition,' continued Collins. 
Embarking at the bustling port of Marseilles, he first went to 
Sai'da with his detachment, and after a few days there, 'we 
steamed through the shimmering opal-blue waters of the Medi- 
terranean toward the distant, mysterious Orient.' 

As soon as they landed, Collins led his raw, untried men 
straight into battle. They protested at first at going immedi- 
ately under fire, but Collins explained to them that France was 
bestowing great honor upon them, and they attacked with fury, 
and drove back the combined armies of Germany, Austria, and 
treacherous Bulgaria many miles. 

'I must close this letter now,' wrote the doughty warrior, 'as 
a wounded messenger has just staggered into my dugout and de- 
clared that the fighting was swinging around in my direction.' 

The letter then went on for another good half-column, con- 
taining, among other gems: 

'I simply ask you to publish this letter, so that my American 

comrades in France will know my address At present I am 

the only American fighting in the Balkans, but if a plan I have 
worked out in conjunction with the Serbian Recruitment staff 
succeeds, this will not be the case in the near future. . . . For the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

present I can't divulge any details of this plan, but the American 
as well as the French public can rest assured it is for the greater 
glory and success of our beloved sister republic, France.' 

The American Legionnaires laughed long and loud over the 
Collins letter, but the 'Herald' of December 1, 191 5, contained a 
stirring editorial about it, with numerous quotations from the 
Holy Scriptures. 


What was left of the two marching regiments of the Legion 
after the Champagne battle went into winter quarters in vil- 
lages near Compiegne. The entire army corps to which the Mo- 
roccan Division belonged was passed in review on October 26 by 
King George V of England, the Prince of Wales, Generals Joffre 
and Kitchener, President Poincare, and other dignitaries. Genet 
said of the review: 

'It was inspiring to see that vast review of the Colonial troops, 
Zouaves, tirailleurs, our noble Legion, and the cavalry. When 
we were passing the King and the President I had the fine for- 
tune to be on the very inside file so that my view of them was 
unobstructed. Our regimental colors received the Croix de 
Guerre that day for our bravery in the fighting in Champagne. 
It certainly was thrilling to hear the bands playing "God save 
the King" and the "Marseillaise" and to see so many thousands 
of bayonets flashing in the sunlight that it looked like a vast sea 
of silver points.' 

There were not enough men available to rebuild two full regi- 
ments, so on November 1 1, 1 91 5, the marching regiments of the 
Premier and Deuxieme Etranger were merged into one regiment, 
three battalions strong, which was called the Regiment de 
Marche de la Legion Etrangere. The new unit retained the flag of 
the Deuxieme Regiment de Marche du Premier Etranger, and in- 
herited the palm from the Croix de Guerre of the flag of the 


The Second Winter in the Trenches 

Deuxieme Etranger, which flag was placed in the great War Mu- 
seum at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris. 

Among the reinforcements that arrived to fill out the ranks 
was a detachment of veteran Legionnaires fresh from the cam- 
paign in Tonkin. One of these men who had been fighting rebels 
and yellow fever in that far-away corner of Asia was an Ameri- 
can, Corporal Joseph Phillips, of Chicago. Phillips was an ex- 
sergeant in the United States Army, with which he had served a 
term of enlistment in the Philippines, and he was just beginning 
his sixth year as a Legionnaire. 

The Legion changed its garb, for the fourth time since August, 
1914. Shortly after it first arrived at the front, dark-blue over- 
alls had been issued, to wear over the red trousers which were 
such a plain target for the enemy. Shortly before the Cham- 
pagne offensive, the regulation horizon-blue uniforms of the 
French line regiments were given to the Legionnaires. Now they 
donned the khaki greatcoats, tunics, and trousers in which the 
various Colonial corps were already attired. 

The regiment changed quarters, and marched to the cold, dis- 
mal town of Crevecceur, in the Oise Department. There was 
much drilling and practice in the latest methods of making war, 
as learned from the battles of 191 5. The life was trying to the 
hardened Legionnaires, and seldom enlivened by amusement. 
Genet wrote of one entertaining episode: 

'Let me tell you a funny incident which occurred last week 
during some sham military manoeuvres of the regiment. The 
commandant of our battalion is very jolly and given to making 
funny remarks now and then. In looks he reminds me of our 
pictured Santa Claus, short, round, and jolly, with flowing white 
whiskers covering his shirt-front. During a sham attack he sud- 
denly pretended that he had been hit and killed by a bursting 
shell. "Je suis mort> je suis mort!" he cried and every one 

'A little later two soldiers in the same spirit of amusement de- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

clared they too were dead — just to get out of some work which 
had to be done at the moment. The commandant glared at them 
for a minute. " Vous etes morts?" he questioned; " ton, je suis 
chef des morts, allez avec moil" They followed him.' 

The Americans who had remained with the Legion felicitated 
themselves when they received news from their comrades who 
had transferred to the One Hundred and Seventieth — 'still in 
the same desolate Champagne sector; hard work at night, guard 
at the outposts, bombardment, three already wounded and 
evacuated.' They at least were tranquil for the winter, and 
warmly quartered in a big town where they could buy all sorts of 
comforts. ' C'est la bonne vie> Seeger wrote. 

Seeger fell ill with bronchitis at the end of January. A year 
and a half of constant effort at the front had worn him out, and 
he was forced to enter the hospital. 'I do not mind taking a rest 
in bed, while we are out of the fighting line,' he said. 

February 20, 191 6, the Legionnaires went into the trenches in 
the Marest-sur-Matz sector. Things were quiet there, but they 
had to be on the alert, because the enemy was strongly en- 
trenched on the Plemont and other heights opposite their line. 
The battalions alternated between the front-line trenches and 
periods of repose at a camp along a small stream in a wood, 
where they constructed a regular little Swiss village. 

The different regiments of the Moroccan Division got up foot- 
ball-teams, and played against each other when at repose. Chat- 
koff, who had missed the Champagne attack because he was in 
the hospital with fever and had just rejoined his regiment, 
Christopher Charles, whose wound had healed nicely, and Joseph 
Phillips were the American members of the Legion's team. On 
one occasion, when the Legion was playing against the Zouaves, 
the Germans started a sudden bombardment with heavy guns. 
The game came to an immediate finish, as spectators and 
players scrambled for shelter in dugouts. 

The Czar of Russia bestowed the Cross of Saint George on 


The Second Winter in the Trenches 

the flag of the Legion, because of the corps' heroism in Cham- 
pagne, and the medal was pinned on the banner at a review held 
behind the lines early in March. 

A German aeroplane bombarded the camp on May 18; one of 
the bombs killed Corporal Joseph Collett, of New York, and 
wounded seven men. Collett was one of the most popular men 
in the Legion; he was of Swiss origin, but a naturalized American 
citizen, and in civilian life was an electrical engineer. He had 
volunteered to fight for France in August, 1914, together with 
his twin brother Marcel. The latter was asleep in a dugout when 
the fatal bomb exploded, and rushed to his brother's side in time 
to receive his dying words. 

Alan Seeger had just returned from the hospital, and he and 
Marcel Collett asked for and obtained permission to accompany 
all the patrols between the lines, in an effort to avenge Joseph's 
death. On one patrol Seeger left his visiting-card on the enemy's 
barbed-wire belt. 

A Memorial Day ceremony was organized in Paris, to take 
place by the statue of Washington and Lafayette at the Place 
des Etats-Unis, in honor of the American volunteers killed fight- 
ing for France in the Foreign Legion. At the suggestion of Paul 
Rockwell, Alan Seeger was asked to write a poem for the occa- 
sion, which he was to come to Paris and read during the cere- 

Memorial Day came, and the ceremony was held, but Seeger 
did not appear to read his poem, the beautiful ode ' In Memory 
of the American Volunteers Fallen for France.' 

'What a bitter disappointment!' wrote Seeger. 'After having 
worked feverishly on my poem and finished it, in spite of work 
and other duty, in the space of two days, behold the 29th comes 
and the 30th, and no permission arrives. It would have been 
such an honor and pleasure to have read my verses there in 

It was learned that a careless functionary at the French 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had promised to arrange for 
Seeger's leave to come to Paris, had confused Memorial Day 
with America's national holiday, and had asked that the poet be 
given a permission on July 4. 

But Alan Seeger had a rendezvous for that day, which he 
could not fail to keep. 

Chapter VIII 


IN the mean while, new volunteers, and veterans who had 
come from the hospitals after wounds received at the front 
had healed, were being drilled at the Legion's big training 
camp at La Valbonne. The situation of the place was pictur- 
esque. The town of La Valbonne nestled at the foot of an al- 
most perpendicular semi-circular chain of hills, while away from 
the camp stretched for miles a level valley, well adapted to 
military manoeuvres. In the distance could be seen on clear 
days the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. 

The camp sprawled out over many acres. The buildings were 
one-storied structures of white-cemented brick and stone, or 
hastily erected shacks of rude planking, all arranged in rows, 
wide apart. Each building accommodated one section of sixty 
men. The floors were usually the hard earth, but always swept 
scrupulously clean. In the centre of each building was a huge 
stove, which heated the quarters fairly well. Around the walls 
were arranged sloping platforms of boards, on which the men 
slept. Each man was provided with a mattress and blankets, 
which during the day were kept rolled up. Above each man's 
sleeping-space was a shelf for personal articles; the rifles were 
ranged in racks near the doors. 

Near the main entrance to the camp grounds was a Foyer 
du Soldat, a sort of soldiers' club, where the men were encour- 
aged to pass their leisure hours instead of frequenting the cheap 
cafes which abounded just outside the camp confines. In the 
Foyer was a reading-room, well supplied with books and period- 
icals, and a larger room, in which were many chairs and benches, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and at one end of which was a raised platform and a piano. 
There were many pianists among the Legionnaires, some of 
them quite gifted, and they often played while hot coffee:or tea 
was served to their comrades. 

In addition to the Legionnaires, there were at the camp many 
battalions of Colonial infantrymen — the professional fighters 
of France, Frenchmen who like the soldier's life and, after com- 
pleting their compulsory term of military training, volunteer 
for service in the Colonies. A short distance from the camp 
proper was a training school for machine-gun operators. The 
machine gun was daily becoming a more important arm of the 
French Army; nine hundred new ones were being sent to the 
front monthly, and at the school were men from all branches of 
the infantry — Legionnaires, Alpine chasseurs^ line infantry- 
men, Colonials, Zouaves, tirailleurs^ and others. 

La Valbonne was essentially a troop town. The civilians 
living there were almost all mercantis, engaged in exploiting the 
soldiers as greedily as possible, selling at high prices food and 
drink and the necessities and small luxuries of army life. The 
part of the town lying across the railroad from the camp was 
entirely given over to cafes, cheap restaurants, tobacco shops, 
and general stores. In the square around the town hall were 
many little canvas sheltered booths, which also catered to the 
soldiers, and displayed their wares only in the evening, during 
the hours of freedom of the men from the camp. 

The officers at the camp were as a rule not up to the standard 
of those who commanded the Legionnaires at the front. Many 
of them, by means of intrigue or influence, had been able to 
keep away from the firing line, and had little sympathy for 
either the recruits or the men who had been wounded. KifBn 
Rockwell, who spent a month at La Valbonne just before he 
transferred to the Aviation, wrote a good account of the life 

'This is only thirty kilometres from Lyon. It is a regular 

1 40 

At La Valbonne 

military camp right out in the country. The sleeping-quarters 
are good and there is plenty of fresh air, trees and grass. The 
room I am in is very clean, and I have a sleeping-bag, clean 
blanket and all. 

'I have really not done anything since I arrived here and this 
is not a bad place, but it is "in the air" for every one to be de- 
moralized — officers and men — and it is nothing but grum- 
bling and yelling from morning to night — 

'I will tell you a few incidents that happened recently: 

'Two days ago the commandant passed a review of the men 
proposed for the reforme. Nearly all of them had been wounded, 
the only one not was Krogh, who is proposed owing to heart 
trouble. All of the men had been in the trenches all winter. Be- 
cause these men were going to get out of it through the doctors, 
the commandant was sore as hell. He lined them up — some 
of them could hardly walk — and cursed them out. He told 
them they were not worth a damn, that they disgraced the 
Legion, and that they only came here for la gamelle. Now, we 
have heard that from sergeants and such all the time. But for a 
commandant to tell men who have ruined themselves for life 
out of a love for France and the principles she is fighting for, I 
think it is going a little too far 

'Now, since I have been here, there has been no one that has 
said a word out of the way to me. Yet I see these things every 
day and never know when my turn will come. And it is such a 
disgrace to France for such things to happen that I wish some- 
thing could be done to stop it.' 

Another letter said: 

'Well, I am still at La Valbonne doing the same thing each 
day — drilling — which grows monotonous I am now plan- 
ning to go to the Dardanelles with the next detachment. I think 
the Legion there is pretty good, as I have heard fine reports of 
their actions — Just came in this morning from another 
twenty-four hours of work and no sleep in the trenches. That is 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

a better idea than the kind of drilling we had last fall, but I 
get tired of it, after having had the seven months of the real 

'None of my letters nowadays are anything but complaints, 
and you know the kind of spirit I was in when I came back.' 

Americans who were at La Valbonne late in 191 5 or the first 
few months of 1916 included Sergeant Edgar Bouligny, Frank 
Whitmore, Wilfred Michaud, Jack Casey, Tony Paullet, Billy 
Thorin, Charles Trinkard and Fred Zinn; all of them had re- 
covered more or less from their wounds of the Champagne 
battle, and were awaiting their turn to go back to the front. 

There were also several recent volunteers: Arthur Barry and 
Henry L. Claude, both from Boston, Massachusetts; Gerald 
Brandon, from the United States in general; Alfred Gerl Bustil- 
los, a Greek-American from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Fred 
Boulanger, of San Francisco, California; Frank Clair, of Co- 
lumbus, Ohio; Jack Moyet, a seventeen-year-old lad who gave 
Mobile, Alabama, as his address; Ivan Finney Nock, of Balti- 
more, Maryland; James Paul Demetre, of St. Louis, Missouri, 
popular among his comrades as Jimmie Paul; Marius Philippe, 
of San Francisco, and C. Dulcie, of Detroit, Michigan. 

There were also Oscar Mouvet, of Brooklyn, New York, a 
professional dancer and the son of a Belgian who had served 
both in the Foreign Legion and the United States Navy; a 
comical bow-legged little Negro, James Bracy, of Portsmouth, 
Virginia, and a weak-minded youth, Robert Whidby, of Mobile, 

Arthur Barry was by trade a plasterer, stock-yards hand, and 
sailor; by disposition, a rover. When he was barely fifteen years 
old he quarreled with his father, ran away from home, and at 
Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined a Canadian regiment of cavalry. 
A few months later his father learned where he was and bought 
his discharge. The runaway returned home, but did not remain 
there long. Eager for a life of adventure, young Barry enlisted 


At La Valbonne 

in the United States Navy and spent three years as a blue- 
jacket on board the battleship Dakota. 

Discharged from the Navy in San Francisco, Barry squan- 
dered his savings and the money given him for transportation 
home. Then, with some comrades, he walked out to the borax 
mines in Death Valley, with the intention of becoming a miner. 
Death Valley was too arid a territory for so ardent a lover of 
salt water and sea breezes, however, so he didn't tarry there 
long. In easy stages, by the 'riding the rods' method, Barry re- 
turned to New England, and settled down to work in his home 
city, varying the monotony of Boston by occasional 'longshore 
cruises on sailing vessels. 

In January, 191 6, Barry decided to cross the Atlantic and 
get into the European war. He shipped out of Boston as a night 
watchman on a horse-boat, with his friend, Henry Claude. 

Claude, too, had worn the United States uniform, both in the 
Navy and in the Army. He had served for four years on the 
light battle cruiser Montgomery, followed by an enlistment as a 
gunner in Battery E, Third United States Field Artillery. He 
already had had a glimpse of the Great War as a sailor on a 
British hospital ship, on which he made several trips to the 
Dardanelles, Malta, and other ports. 

Barry and Claude were entitled to a free passage back to 
Boston on the horse-boat and a small sum of money. The after- 
noon before their ship was to start back to America, they were 
wandering through the outlying streets of Bordeaux, at which 
port they had landed, and halted in front of a large barracks to 
gaze at the soldiers idling about the courtyard within. Presently 
they engaged in conversation with two French sergeants who 
had lived in America and spoke English. After some con- 
versation, the Americans were asked inside to look around 
the barracks, and then were invited to share the sergeant's 

Favorably impressed by everything they saw and heard, the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Americans asked during the meal if there was any chance of 
their joining the regiment. 

The sergeants seemed considerably surprised by the question 
and replied: 'You cannot get into this regiment, but if you 
really wish to fight, you can join the Foreign Legion.' 

'Lead us to it!' cried both Barry and Claude, and, conducted 
by the sergeants, they hastened along the darkening streets to 
the recruitment bureau. The bureau was just about to close 
when they arrived, and they were told to come back the follow- 
ing day, Sunday, February 13. They were exact at the rendez- 
vous, were pronounced ' bon pour service ' by the Army doctors, 
and a few minutes later signed enlistments as Legionnaires for 
the duration of the war. 

They returned to their boat, which was just about to sail, 
and told their astonished shipmates that they had joined the 
Legion, and then went to the captain for their pay. The cap- 
tain was an Englishman; he paid the youths off in full, and 
praised them for preferring to brave the perils of war rather 
than recross the Atlantic and take up again the safe life of 

Frank Clair and Robert Whidby both had served in the 
United States Army; the latter told several stories as to how he 
happened to join the Legion, the most probable one being that 
he was unhappily married and his wife had nagged him away 
from home. Whidby and James Bracy came to France on a 
horse-ship; the crossing was very rough, both were horribly 
seasick, and when they landed at Bordeaux swore they would 
never again set foot on a boat. They went to the American 
Consul at Bordeaux for aid; the Consul finally got tired of 
giving them money, and, as they could not find work and did 
not want to embark for America, he advised them to enlist in 
the Foreign Legion. 

Bracy was a typical happy-go-lucky, ignorant Negro, an un- 
conscious clown, and the butt of the jokes of the other Ameri- 


At La Valbonne 

cans at La Valbonne. He did not like the tales told him of life 
and battles at the front, and began walking cross-legged and re- 
porting at sick call every day. The doctor was at first taken in 
by the Negro's woe-begone appearance and his claim that he 
had rheumatism in his feet, and put him on the list of those 
exempt from service. 

For several days Bracy had a fine time of it, idling around the 
camp and eating his fill, while the other men worked and drilled. 
One evening he was in the Foyer du Soldat, when one of the men 
seated himself at the piano and began playing American 'rags.' 
Bracy had difficulty in keeping still. Finally the pianist struck 
up 'On the Mississippi,' and the darky could stand it no longer. 
He climbed up on a table, and gave a first-class exhibition of 
old Virginia buck-and-wing dancing. 

The Negro was so engrossed in 'shaking his feet,' and revel- 
ling in the delighted applause of his comrades, that he did not 
note the entrance of two officers and the doctor. The latter 
watched the dancer's performance with interest, and applauded 
loudly, but the next day Bracy was back in the ranks drilling 
with the other boys. 

Ivan Nock was an unusually fine type of American youth. 
He had received military training with the Fifth Maryland 
National Guard Regiment, where he won a sharpshooter's 
medal, and was by profession a mining engineer. He held a re- 
sponsible position in a silver mine in Peru, when the World War 

' I was miserable every day I stayed out of it,' he told Paul 
Rockwell. 'My conscience reproached me that an able-bodied 
man was not taking his part in a struggle which is to decide the 
destinies of mankind for centuries to come. Finally I had to 
drop everything and come to France and fight.' 

Volunteers from almost every nation kept arriving at La 
Valbonne. In Fred Zinn's squad of fourteen men, nine different 
flags were represented, A little Spanish lad who arrived at the 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

camp the first week in January, 191 6, was typical of the kind of 
men who were enlisting. He was the last of three brothers to 
volunteer for France against Germany. The eldest brother was 
killed in the trenches at the foot of Reims Mountain early in 
191 5. The second brother lost a hand during the storming of 
La Targette, May 9, 191 5. The youngest had wanted to enlist 
at the outbreak of the war, but had promised his mother to wait 
until he was nineteen years old. When he reached that age, his 
family refused to give him money for railway fare to France, so 
he walked all the way from Madrid to Paris to enlist. Paul 
Rockwell met him at the Legion's recruitment bureau in Paris, 
where he had arrived weary from his long walk, on the day be- 
fore Christmas of 191 5, and found him again at La Valbonne 
two weeks later. 

A distinguished volunteer was Colonel Angell, a brilliant 
Norwegian officer, who resigned his high command in his na- 
tional army to join the Legion as a lieutenant. Colonel Angell 
had already been in France; in 1903 he taught the officers and 
men of the One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth French Line Infan- 
try Regiment, stationed at Briancon, in the French Alps, how 
to use the ski. He had been official military observer for Nor- 
way during the Balkan Wars. 

Lieutenant W. Peeters, a Norwegian volunteer who had 
drilled the Americans at Toulouse, was killed at La Valbonne 
in the spring of 191 6 during hand-grenade practice. He was just 
out of the hospital after a grave wound received during the 
Champagne battle. 

Brooke Bonnell was decorated with the Medaille Militaire 
and the Croix de Guerre^ with a fine citation in Army Orders re- 
calling his heroism in Champagne, and Henry Walker was 
awarded the same medals, with an excellent mention; both were 
invalided out of the French Army. David E. Wheeler was left 
lame from his wound, and was also invalided out of the serv- 
ice. He wanted to go to England, and applied to the Ameri- 


At La Valbonne 

can Consulate-General in Paris to have his passport put in 

'You have been fighting in the French Army, haven't you?' 
demanded a member of the Consular staff, in a disagreeable tone. 

'I have,' replied Wheeler, 'and in fact, have just been dis- 
charged after a wound.' 

The functionary grabbed Wheeler's passport away from him. 

'You have no more right to this passport than if you were a 
Greek or a Russian or a Chinaman!' he informed the American 
fighting surgeon. 

Wheeler went to England just the same, and, after much 
knocking at official doors there, got himself attached to a Cana- 
dian regiment as battalion surgeon. Within a few weeks he was 
back at the front in Northern France. 

John Hopper, after being out of the Legion, engaged in the 
French counter-spy service. He accomplished many dangerous 
missions around Verdun and at other parts of the front, and 
caused to be shot numerous dangerous German spies. His twin 
brother, James Hopper, the short-story writer, came to France 
as a war correspondent. 

Emil Dufour was left weakened by his wound, and was sent 
to work in a munitions factory near Paris. While he was conva- 
lescent from his wound, an American woman living in Paris had 
invited Dufour with some other soldiers to tea at her apartment. 
The tea was served by a very comely maid. Some minutes later, 
Dufour excused himself from the salon, went back to the 
kitchen, and talked to the maid. It was a case of 'love at 
first sight': a few weeks later, the maid left her place to marry 
the American volunteer. 

Near the centre of the camp at La Valbonne stood the jail of 
the Legion. It was like the other buildings, except that there 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

was always a guard at the door, and the windows were small, 
high up in the walls, and iron-barred. 

Many of the American volunteers made acquaintance with 
the interior of the building. It was no disgrace, however, to be 
a prisoner. Small jail sentences were given for being late at 
roll-call, for returning late from a leave of absence, for getting 
drunk, or for indulging in a fistic bout with a comrade. Unless 
they were locked up on a serious charge, such as insubordina- 
tion or attempted desertion, the prisoners went out for exercise 
with the other soldiers and ate the same food; the only draw- 
back of a jail sentence was that one was deprived of the even- 
ing's freedom to leave camp. 

The old system of punishment, in vogue in the African depots 
of the Legion, was abolished in France. Under it the man serv- 
ing a few days' prison sentence was compelled to march up and 
down a distance of twenty-five metres with a seventy-five- 
pound pack on his back, for three hours every morning and 
three hours every afternoon, until he had served his time. Old 
Legionnaires said that more than one man had gone insane 
from the monotony and strain. 

Jack Casey and Gerald Brandon were put in jail early in 
January, 191 6, charged with assault on a corporal. The latter, 
a Swiss, had been drinking, got into a row with Brandon, and 
began knocking him about. Casey went to the rescue of his 
compatriot, and in the scrimmage which followed, the Swiss 
was slightly injured. A knife with red stains on it was found 
near the scene of the fray, and the corporal charged the Amer- 
icans with having stabbed him. 

The affair looked very serious for a while, but some of Casey's 
friends took up the defense of the two accused men. Mr. John 
R. Ernster, American Vice-Consul at Lyon — who, like his 
successor, Mr. J. E. Jones, was ever a true friend to the Ameri- 
can Legionnaires — also visited La Valbonne several times and 
pleaded for them. It was found that the stains on the knife were 


At La Valbonne 

jam, and not blood, and the Swiss corporal withdrew his charge. 
Brandon drilled with the Legion for a few weeks, then obtained 
his discharge without ever serving at the front. 

Billy Thorin was almost a regular boarder at the jail. He was 
not long in hospital from his Champagne battle wounds, and 
was sent to La Valbonne in early December, 191 5. The camp 
was deadly monotonous to Billy, but how he managed to liven 
things up he wrote in his own picturesque style: 

'The other night we went to a cafe called "L'Univers." Two 
Spaniards told us the U.S.A. was no good and that the Ameri- 
cans could not fight. So just to show them that there was no ill 
feeling and that none of us American guys was afraid to fight, I 
cracked one between the eyes. That started it. We were four 
and they were five, but it didn't make no odds to us. We went 
through them in good old style; they got assistance from two 
civilians, but they were no good with their dukes, so we laid 
them low as well. 

'They sent for patrols, but we had just warmed up then, and, 
as the gendarmes said, "Nothing but a 'seventy- five' could 
have stopped those four Americans." We smashed up a few 
things, like chairs and windows, etc. Well, they got too many 
for us at last, but the gendarmes were good sports and told us 
they would help us right as much as they possibly could. 

'Their word was good. When we were taken up in front of the 
four-striper [commandant], the gendarmes told him that the 
other fellows started the trouble and that if we each paid fifteen 
francs the cafe would let it go at that. We have paid ten francs 
each already, but, believe me, I wouldn't have missed that fight 
for a fifty-dollar bill. I will be sitting in a cell over Christmas, 
but what of it?' 

Thorin was a born fighter. He was of Swedish parentage, and 
spent his childhood on a farm. But ' there was too damned much 
religion in the family,' Billy said; his mother belonged to one 
sect and his father to another, and they were continually quarrel- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ling over which one was going to heaven. One brother survived 
the discussions, and grew up to be a missionary, but Daniel 
William left home at the age of fourteen years. He worked first 
for an uncle on a wheat ranch, but such peaceful occupations as 
following the plough or running a wheat thresher did not appeal 
to him for long. The roving blood of hardy Viking ancestors 
coursed madly in his veins, and called him to the sea. He 
reached the Pacific Coast, shipped as a cabin-boy on a tramp 
sailing vessel, and from that time on Billy followed the sea with 
fair regularity for fifteen years. There was no port of any conse- 
quence that he could not tell enough about to show that he had 
been there 

Like all sailors, however, Billy had his spells of being tired of 
ordinary seafaring. Once he enlisted as a marine on a Chinese 
gunboat and fought with desperate yellow pirates and opium 

At another time, he enlisted in the United States Army, and 
was stationed on the Mexican border in Southern California. 
He found that life very dull, so crossed the frontier, and joined 
Price and Mosby's band of soldiers of fortune which fought for 
first one Mexican pretender, then for another. 

That campaign was almost Billy's finish. In a guerrilla battle 
with a band of revolutionists Billy and a comrade decided to in- 
vestigate a small adobe hut which stood in the low brush near a 
road. Billy started around one side of the house, his mate 
around the other. When Billy came to the front of the house, 
the headless body of his comrade lay in the dust before the half- 
open door. Thorin 'saw red.' He put his hand on the door to 
push it open, and a Mexican lurking behind it cut the hand half 
off with a machete. Somehow or other, Billy killed the Mexican 
with his bare hands. 

Then he heard firing, and stepped out of the hut. A bullet 
passed through his face, from cheek to cheek, and Billy started 
to run. Just as he reached the road a second bullet caught him 


At La Valbonne 

through the thigh and Billy pitched forward unconscious into 
the dust. When he recovered consciousness, he was in the mili- 
tary hospital at Fort Roswell, New Mexico. Americans passing 
the scene of battle in an automobile had picked him up just in 
time, and hurried him across the border. 

Billy bore the scars of that fight on his hand and cheeks after 
his recovery. When he had settled his little account with the 
United States military authorities, he emigrated to Australia 
with the intention of settling there. Although far from being an 
Adonis, he had a very winning way with the women, and as two 
Australian girls — both with equally strong claims on him — 
were claiming his hand in marriage before he had been on the 
island continent for many months, he embarked in June, 1914, 
on an Italian sailing vessel bound for Liverpool. 

When the ship reached its destination, it was learned that the 
Great War had broken out. Billy at once announced his inten- 
tion of going to France and joining the Foreign Legion, as he al- 
ready knew that corps' reputation as a fighting body. The 
Italian sea captain offered to carry Thorin to Bordeaux, where 
the boat was calling for a cargo, and the offer was gladly ac- 

At Bordeaux, Thorin helped load the boat with a cargo for 
Chile, then went into a cafe with the captain, who proposed to 
drink to his success as a Legionnaire. One drink was followed 
by another, and when the would-be soldier recovered his senses 
he was far out on the ocean en route for South America. 

Some weeks later, the ship sailed into the harbor of Africa. 
Before going ashore Billy gave the treacherous captain a thrash- 
ing that sent the shanghaier into the hospital and himself into a 
Chilean prison for two months. 

After coming out of jail, Thorin had to wait around Africa for 
several months before he could get a boat back to France. He 
won the good graces of a German girl who was plying near the 
water front what Kipling calls the 'world's oldest profession,' 

I5 1 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and earned his board and keep by opening beer and throwing 
out rowdy customers for her. 

Billy finally was able to get away from Chile and back to 
France, and enlisted in the Legion as soon as he arrived at 
Bordeaux. As he spoke no French and was of a fiery nature, he 
was continually misunderstanding and resenting with blows 
things said to him with no intention of angering him. 

Thorin came to Paris on a convalescence leave of absence 
when he was discharged from the hospital after his Champagne 
wound. Mrs. Alice Weeks, mother of Kenneth Weeks, had 
taken an apartment in Paris after the death of her son and had 
thrown it open as headquarters for the American volunteers in 
the Legion. Thorin frequently lunched and dined with Mrs. 
Weeks while on leave, and it was remarked that when he was at 
table the maid, a homely, middle-aged Belgian woman, served 
very badly and gazed continually at the Legionnaire. 

Billy came for dinner the night before he was to return to La 
Valbonne, and the maid asked if she might put up a lunch for 
him to eat in the train. She was told she might do so, and in the 
box she put a note which contained an ardent declaration of 
love. Billy was amused, and at the same time flattered, when he 
read the love-letter, and answered in kind. From then on the 
infatuated maid spent most of her wages to send parcels con- 
taining cigarettes, chocolate, and other comforts to the heart- 
smashing Legionnaire. 

Thorin came to Paris again early in January, 191 6, and Paul 
Rockwell accompanied him when he returned to La Valbonne. 
He had overstayed his leave twenty-four hours — any Legion- 
naire who overstayed his leave more than forty-eight hours was 
posted as a deserter and court-martialled as such if caught — 
and knew that he was liable to eight days' prison sentence. Just 
before they reached the camp, Thorin remarked that if he had 
ten francs he might be able to 'fix things up' with his cor- 
poral so as not to be reported late. Rockwell gave him the 


At La Valbonne 

money, and was surprised to find Thorin in jail the following 

'What's the matter? Couldn't you "fix" the corporal?' he 
asked Billy. 

'Well, I got to thinking it over, and decided I'd rather do the 
eight days and keep the ten francs myself,' was Thorin's candid 

Some time later, Thorin was the leader in the biggest battle 
ever fought at La Valbonne. He was in a cafe late one afternoon 
with Arthur Barry, Henry Claude, Charles Trinkard, and two 
or three other Legionnaires, and engaged in a dispute with the 
proprietor over the price and quality of the drinks served in 
the place. The cafe-keeper attempted to throw the Legion- 
naires into the street, and a battle royal ensued. Several civil- 
ians were badly beaten, the riot call was sounded, and a squad 
of gendarmes rushed to the scene, led by an adjudant. Thorin 
promptly knocked the latter senseless, and the Legionnaires 
barricaded themselves in the cafe, which they had thoroughly 
wrecked, and resisted arrest. Trinkard, who was still weak 
from his Champagne wound, rushed back to the camp for 
reinforcements, shouting that the Americans were being 

Ivan Nock, who was lying down in one of the barracks, heard 
the cry for aid, and rushed bareheaded to the scene of action. 
He tried to force his way through the battling throng, and went 
down with his skull fractured. 

An entire section of French Colonial soldiers with fixed bayo- 
nets now arrived on the run, the Legionnaires surrendered to 
them, and were marched off to prison. Nock was taken to the 
hospital, where his skull was trepanned. He hovered between 
life and death for weeks, but as he was of an iron constitution 
finally recovered. 

Thorin, Claude, and Barry were removed to the military 
prison at Lyon as the jail at La Valbonne was not considered 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

solid enough to hold them. They were put in a dark under- 
ground dungeon, where they lay for weeks on straw, with a 
bread-and-water diet. 

They were finally brought to trial before a court-martial. 
Thorin was considered a dangerous and unruly man; he had 
often been in trouble, and had dangerously injured the gen- 
darmes' adjudant, so it was asked that he be sentenced to death. 
Mr. Ernster pleaded for him, and Mr. F. B. Grundy and other 
friends got up a petition for clemency. Thorin's bravery during 
the Champagne offensive was also urged in his favor. After 
much deliberation by the judges, he was sentenced to eight 
years' hard labor, and Claude, Barry, and Nock were given each 
five years of the same penalty. All four sentences were sus- 
pended, and the Americans were sent to the front and told to re- 
trieve themselves by gallantry there. 


There was an authentic cousin of the Kaiser William II 
among the Legionnaires at La Valbonne in the spring of 191 6. 
His name was Maurice Magnus, and he was an American citi- 
zen, as he was born in New York, on November 7, 1876. His 
parents were German immigrants, and, according to excellent 
authority, his mother was an illegitimate daughter of the old 
German Kaiser, William I. 

Magnus was a pompous, pretentious little man. He had been 
for years in the theatrical business, and was at one time the 
manager of Isadora Duncan, the dancer. He had lived in Italy 
for some time, where he edited the 'Roman Review,' a sorry 
English-language publication which was killed by the war. He 
also contributed occasional articles to Middle-Western news- 
papers, but he seems to have been chiefly a parasite and a cheat, 
with tastes far above his income. 

With the avowed intention of getting material for a book, 


At La Valbonne 

Magnus crossed from Italy to Tunis in March, 191 6, and en- 
listed in the Foreign Legion. He was sent to the depot of the 
Legion at Sidi-bel Abbes, where he drilled for a few weeks. He 
was much impressed by the number of Germans he met in the 
Legion in Algeria; men who had enlisted in order to keep from 
being confiscated property they had acquired in business in 

Magnus was then sent to La Valbonne. The x^mericans who 
knew him there remarked two conspicuous things about him: his 
deep personal hatred of the Kaiser, and his fright at the sight of 
war-mutilated men who were waiting their discharge from the 

Magnus was named in a detachment of men to go to the front. 
That was the last place in the world he wanted to be: he ob- 
tained a short leave of absence to go to Paris, supposedly to 
wind up his affairs. As soon as he got to Paris, he changed his 
uniform for civilian clothes, had his passport viseed for Italy at 
the American Consulate-General — making no mention of his 
service in the Legion — and took the express for Nice. He was 
horribly frightened all the time during the trip South, and ex- 
pected at any moment one of his former officers in the Legion to 
walk in on him. 

From Nice he went to Menton, and at the frontier post there 
made friends with an unsuspicious Italian customs guard. He 
thought every man who walked behind him was a detective, and 
constantly shivered with apprehension at the thought of being 
arrested. Finally he managed to walk across the St. Louis 
bridge into Italy, pretending a visit to the Italian guard who 
was off duty at the moment, and went to Borderhiga, where he 
took the train to Rome. From there he went to Spain. Later 
he returned to Italy, and resumed his career as a cheat and 
swindler. He got out of Italy, with the police hot on his trail be- 
cause of bad checks he had passed, and took up his abode in 
Malta. He began swindling again, and after a few months on 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the island committed suicide while the Maltese police waited 
outside his door to carry him off to prison. 

A manuscript Magnus had written fell into the hands of D. H. 
Lawrence, an English novelist, and was published under the 
title 'Memoirs of the Foreign Legion.' Lawrence must have 
wanted badly to recover money he had advanced to Magnus: 
he tells of loans he had made to the latter, and states frankly in 
a ninety-four-page introduction — the only entertaining part 
of the book — that unless the volume proved a success, Mag- 
nus's debts could never be paid. The 'Memoirs' are worse than 
the usual slop written by deserters from the Foreign Legion, and 
are full of incredible misstatements and lies. Magnus speaks of 
some of the Americans he met at La Valbonne; he passes ac- 
curate judgment on Attey and Collins (called Sullivan in the 
published volume), but basely slanders Casey. He was forced to 
praise Bouligny for his soldierly qualities and his fairness as a 
Sergeant: no one could come in contact with Bouligny without 
admiring him and recognizing him as a man. 

D. H. Lawrence said of Magnus: 'One is driven by very rage 
to wonder if he was really a spy, a German spy whom Germany 
cast off because he was no good.' 

Most of the men who knew Magnus in the Legion would an- 
swer in the affirmative. 

Attey — who also called himself Athey and Donald Thane — 
was a would-be poet and magazine writer, and claimed to be 
from Baltimore, Maryland. He stated that he had become 
bored with life at home, so worked his way across the Atlantic 
and entered the Legion. The more he listened to the men who 
had been at the front talk about the life there the longer his face 
became. He was named to go to the front with reinforcements, 
obtained leave to go to Paris 'to settle his affairs,' and the 
Legion knew him no more. 

Harry Cushing Collins appeared at La Valbonne in the spring 
of 191 6. He announced his arrival in the Paris edition of the 


At La Valbonne 

'New York Herald' of May 13. After telling of his heroism and 
narrow escapes from death as he bore the brunt of the rear- 
guard fighting during the retreat from Serbia, he said: 'As the 
retreat and the chaotic conditions which followed it upset my 
plans to have a detachment of American comrades sent down 
there where work of a special character was to be given them, I 
am glad to be back here in France among them.' 

Collins's account of his life and boldness as a fighter was too 
flamboyant for the French censors, and more than half of the 
space assigned by the editor of the 'Herald' for his letter was 
left a blank. 

Collins was ordered to the front, but it was impossible to get 
any service out of him. He would hide away and weep bitterly, 
and tried his old trick of feigning insanity. He finally was sent 
to the military hospital at Lyon. There he either fell into the 
hands of an inexperienced doctor, or else the Legion had had 
enough of him, for he was discharged from the French Army, 
the official records stating that he was released because of 
'hysterical neurasthenia.' 

John Paul Du Bois was also at La Valbonne in the spring of 
1916. The sentence of five years' hard labor for striking an 
officer was still hanging over him, and he was anxious to desert 
from the Legion. He was in correspondence with a number of 
anarchists scattered about Europe, and one of them supplied 
him with a forged passport. Some of Du Bois's letters were in- 
tercepted by the French military authorities, the false passport 
was discovered, and he was locked up in jail. He laid a careful 
plan to break away from La Valbonne, but it miscarried, and 
he was removed to the more formidable military prison at 

Du Bois now began to feign violent madness. Almost every 
time a jailer appeared with food or water, the American would 
shriek loudly and try to attack him. At other times, he would 
weep, and beg the jailer not to come near him, saying that he 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

was afflicted with homicidal mania, and was afraid he might 
commit murder. 

Du Bois was put under the observation of the doctors, and so 
cleverly did he feign insanity that he was discharged from the 
Legion, and advised to leave France as quickly as possible. Du 
Bois did not need to be urged; he still feared that the hard- 
labor sentence might be remembered against him. As soon as 
he could secure passage, he took a boat back to America, 

Chapter IX 


The Americans who changed from the Foreign Legion to 
the One Hundred and Seventieth Line Infantry Regi- 
ment included Walter K. Appleton, Jr.; John Bowe; 
Ferdinand Capdevielle; John A. Cordonnier; Dennis Dowd; 
William E. Dugan; Corporals Frank Dupont, Charles Hof- 
fecker, and Eugene Jacob; David Wooster King; J. Laurent; 
Sergeant Robert Mulhauser; Frank Musgrave; Paul Pavelka; 
Marius Rocle; Robert Soubiran; and Michael Steinfels. In ad- 
dition, there were Elov Nilson, who called himself ' the adopted 
Yankee,' and had registered in the Legion as coming from Mil- 
waukee, Wisconsin, where he had relatives, and Eugene Bul- 
lard, a coal-black Negro ex-boxer and musician, who gave his 
address as Columbus, Georgia, but was said to be of British 
West Indian origin. 

Sergeant Mulhauser was put in command of a section, and 
Corporals Dupont, Jacob, and Hoffecker were given charge of 
squads. Mulhauser, Jacob, and Laurent were all three ex- 
perienced machine-gunners, and were continued at that duty. 

If any of the Americans had transferred to the One Hundred 
and Seventieth Regiment expecting to find things easier there 
than in the Legion, they quickly realized their mistake. The 
One Hundred and Seventieth was an attacking regiment; and 
had taken an active part in almost every important battle since 
the day war was declared. It had been decimated time and 
again, and had won a great reputation for courage. 

The Americans marched thirty-five kilometres back from the 
firing line to join their new regiment, which was recuperating 

l S9 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

from its terrible losses during the Champagne offensive. Other 
reenforcements arrived from the regimental depot the same day, 
and the One Hundred and Seventieth marched straight back to 
the front, and took over the very trenches the Legion had been 

Paul Pavelka wrote: 

'We came back into the same sector where we had been, and 
relieved the Legion. It was very nice to see the old boys again. 
They were very much pleased to see the Americans. There was 
not very much time to talk to them, but I found out that they 
were going to another sector where they expected to remain for 
the winter. 

'I felt blue on seeing the old Legionnaires, with whom I had 
spent a year of service, going away. Whether or not we shall 
ever see one another again is hard to tell. I do wish that our 
regiments will have another opportunity to fight side by side. 
Another thing I shall miss is our good old side-kickers, the Al- 
gerians and Moroccans. They always go with the Legion, and 
I shall not again have the pleasure of hearing their native lan- 
guage and songs, which used to amuse us all.' 

The men of the One Hundred and Seventieth set to work 
with pick, shovel, and axe, and consolidated and strengthened 
their position, which so recently had been the rear of the Ger- 
man first defense line and as such wrecked by the French artil- 
lery fire. The soldiers labored under a continual enemy bom- 

During the very first stretch of duty with their new regiment 
in the trenches, there were several casualties among the Amer- 
icans. Dennis Dowd was painfully wounded in the right hand 
by a shrapnel ball, and was sent to the hospital. Robert Soubi- 
ran applied the first-aid dressing to Dowd's wound, and a half- 
hour later was on his way to the hospital with a big shell- 
splinter in his knee. 

Within the next few days, John Bowe was wounded in the 

1 60 

Les Hirondelles de la Mort 

forehead by a shrapnel ball; Frank Musgrave was gassed, and 
injured in the side; Michael Steinfels broke his arm; and Elov 
Nilson fell ill from the effects of gas; all four were evacuated 
from the front, and joined Dowd and Soubiran in the hospital. 

David King was buried alive by a shell explosion; his com- 
rades dug him out, seemingly none the worse for the experience. 
The following day King started to fire at a party of Germans a 
suddenly lifted fog exposed working between the lines, and 
found that his right eye had been gravely affected by the con- 
cussion of the exploding shell. Not wishing to leave his regi- 
ment, King said nothing of his infirmity, and learned to take 
aim from his left shoulder. 

On October 30 the Germans made a determined attempt to 
storm by a surprise attack the position held by the One Hun- 
dred and Seventieth. No artillery preparation was made, as the 
enemy thought the French defenses could not as yet be well 
organized. Toward nightfall an entire regiment suddenly 
emerged from the German lines and rushed toward the French 
position. For a few minutes things were very lively, but the 
machine-gun and rifle fire of the French was too much for the 
assailants, who turned and fled into their trenches in great dis- 
order, leaving behind many dead and wounded. It was all over 
before the French batteries got well warmed up. 

Pavelka was made liaison agent between the different com- 
panies of his battalion, and was sent up into the woods to carry 
messages from one post to another. 

'Something on the style of the old pony-expresses in the 
West,' he wrote; 'the only difference is we have no ponies. We 
work it two men to a watch, and the watch lasts six hours. We 
carry our orders alternatively, one down the line and the other 
up the line, and vice-versa. I had a little to do with the arrange- 
ment of this system, and all the boys are well contented. 

'There are four of us here. One of the best features of this job 
is that we can have a little fire hidden in our dugout, which helps 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

greatly toward making us more comfortable. Our food is 
passed along the same way as the communications, and when it 
gets to our post, it is plenty cold. Here again our fire comes in 

Winter set in, and the trenches were more than ever cold and 
damp and muddy. There were numerous cases of frost-bite and 
frozen feet. The Americans wondered at and admired the 
stoicism and spirit of their French comrades, many of whom 
were from the part of France occupied by the Germans and did 
not have even the consolation and encouragement of letters and 
news from their loved ones to brighten their days. 

Pavelka cut his hands badly helping put out barbed-wire en- 
tanglements; he had them bandaged, and remained at the front, 
praying that the Germans would not attack while he handled 
his rifle so clumsily. 

The cold became bitter. An allowance of charcoal was issued 
to each man, and the men accepted with resignation the pro- 
spect of a winter in the ill-prepared Champagne trenches. 

Toward the end of November, Pavelka came to Paris on 
permission. Since before the Champagne offensive he had not 
had the time or opportunity to change his clothes or wash up, 
and the mud of the trenches and blood of the battlefield clung 
to his uniform. Almost a pound of shrapnel bullets were picked 
out of the lining of his greatcoat. 

When Pavelka rejoined his regiment on November 30, he 
found awaiting him an order to change to the Aviation. The 
great desire of his life was realized. He had put in a request to 
transfer to the Air Service along with Kiffin Rockwell, but it 
was a difficult matter to be sent from the trenches to the Avia- 
tion school. Fortunately for him, three distinguished French- 
men took a friendly interest in the American volunteers: Mon- 
sieur Georges Leygues, Deputy from the Lot-et-Garonne De- 
partment and President of the French Government's Foreign 
Affairs Committee; Monsieur Stephen Jousselin, Paris Munici- 


Les Hirondelles de la Mort 

pal Councillor, whose wife was Miss Kate Cutler, of Chicago, and 
whose only son, a Spahi officer, was killed early in the war; and 
Monsieur J. de Sillac, an eminent diplomat attached to the 
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These influential persons 
kept pushing Pavelka's request to become an aviator, until 
finally it was granted. 


During a period in the Champagne reserve trenches, Eugene 
Jacob called Charles Hoffecker a 'dirty Boche.' Hoffecker, 
whose family went to America from the German-speaking part 
of Switzerland, bitterly resented the epithet, and challenged 
Jacob to a duel. The challenge was accepted, and the duel came 
off when the One Hundred and Seventieth went to a village in 
the rear for the periodical repose. Bayonets were the weapons, 
and the two Americans set to fighting in deadly earnest. Both 
had taken fencing lessons, and they gave a good display of that 
art. Hoffecker drew first blood, slightly wounding his opponent 
in the shoulder; more serious injury might have been done had 
not the arrival of an officer and a guard of ten men put an end to 
the fight. It was first proposed to court-martial the two com- 
batants, but when the circumstance bringing about the duel 
was explained, the Americans were let off with a severe ad- 
monition, after they had shaken hands. 

Frank Musgrave spent two months in the hospital, then was 
sent back to the front, this time with the Forty-Fourth Line In- 
fantry Regiment, which was holding a line of trenches in ad- 
vance of Vaux, near Verdun. 

The entire Verdun front had been extremely calm for many 
months, hardly a shell being fired on either side, and it was 
looked upon as an ideal repose sector. French aviators had re- 
ported for months the observation of remarkable activity be- 
hind the German lines opposite Verdun, and in December, 191 5, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Colonel Driant, a prominent French officer and Deputy from 
Nancy, sounded a stern warning of an impending enemy assault 
against the stronghold on the Meuse. But the Germans were 
also very active behind the Champagne front, evidently pre- 
paring a grand attack there; they had not constructed in the 
Verdun region any parallel take-off trenches toward the French 
defenses, such as had been previously used in offensive actions; 
and Joffre did not have enough troops to mass divisions behind 
both threatened sectors. 

When Musgrave arrived at Vaux in mid- February, 191 6, 
General Herr, the French commander of the Verdun front, had 
under his orders nine divisions of infantry and six artillery regi- 
ments. The German Crown Prince had opposite Verdun nine- 
teen divisions, and the most formidable concentration of artil- 
lery yet seen. 

At seven-fifteen on the morning of February 21, on a cold, 
dry day, the storm broke. The thousands of German batteries 
massed along the narrow front opened up, and with a bom- 
bardment, beside which Musgrave afterwards said the French 
preparatory bombardments in Artois and Champagne were mere 
child's play, the French first defenses were wiped out. Barbed- 
wire belts disappeared; trenches were levelled, and bomb-proof 
shelters became reddened and blackened craters with morsels of 
human flesh sticking to the sides. Long-range guns destroyed 
the telephone lines leading back to the rear, and a barrage of 
steel and lead hung between the front-line defenders and the 
reserve troops. 

The German infantry left its trenches late in the afternoon, 
and walked over to what had been the French first lines. Here 
and there a machine-gun crew had somehow survived the in- 
ferno, and inflicted losses upon the invaders before they them- 
selves were killed. 

The bombardment kept up, and behind it the infiltration of 
the German infantry into the French lines continued. Colonel 


Les Hirondelles de la Mort 

Driant was killed on the 22d, and his battalion of Alpine chas- 
seurs was wiped out. The situation became desperate: General 
Joffre ordered, ' Resist, and hold Verdun.' 

Musgrave's regiment was decimated as it doggedly held on 
to its position defending the fort and village of Vaux. His com- 
pany was completely surrounded by the enemy. Aid could not 
break through the wall of shells and bayonets, and on February 
26 Musgrave and a small group of comrades, their ammunition 
exhausted and without food or drink since forty-eight hours, 
were made prisoners. 

'Lucky' Frank had fallen into the hands of the enemy, but 
something of his old good fortune still stuck with him. His first 
letter from captivity said: 

'I am in a large camp, and there are Russians, English, and 
Belgians here, besides the French. We work sometimes, but so 
far I have not done much. The camp is a great barbed-wire en- 
closure — with large wooden barracks, like ordinary soldiers' 
barracks, and in fact, more comfortable than many. 

'We all wear our uniforms, which are of many varieties. 
There is a moving-picture show in camp, which is well at- 
tended. The titles of the scenes are in German, and they started 
with an interpreter translating into French, and now have 
English and Russian ones, too. The effect is comic, and gets me 
all balled up. While trying to read the German title and listen 
to the French and English interpreters at once, I lose out all 

'There are men here captured at Mons and other ancient bat- 
tles. They must have forgotten what a war looks like.' 

General Petain took command at Verdun on February 26, 
and all available troops were hastened to the defense. The One 
Hundred and Seventieth quit its reserve sector, and hurried to- 
ward the endangered citadel. Jack Janz, just out of the hospital 
from his wounds of May 9, joined the other Americans in the 
One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment. He had learned in the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

hospital that his combat comrade Musgrave had shifted from 
the Legion to the One Hundred and Seventieth, and had asked 
to follow him there. He was greatly disappointed when he 
learned on arriving that Musgrave had again changed corps. 

The One Hundred and Seventieth spent a week in reserve 
under the very walls of Verdun, then on March 3 entered the 
fiery furnace. 

Jack Janz was blown to pieces at Vaux; not enough of his 
body was found for a burial. He was cited in the Order of the 
Day, his citation reading: 

Jack "Jam: an American citizen, a brave and courageous soldier. 
Killed at his outlook post during a violent bombardment. 

Janz was born in Philadelphia, of German parentage. He 
looked upon the latter fact as a 'skeleton in the family closet,' 
and the only one of his comrades to whom he confided his racial 
origin was Paul Pavelka. He usually said he was from Ken- 
tucky, where he had once lived, because of the small proportion 
of inhabitants of Teutonic blood in that State. He was a fine, 
sturdy soldier, and his comrades especially remarked his hatred 
of the enemy. 

Jack Cordonnier was gravely wounded the same day Janz 
fell, and was sent back to the hospital. Walter Appleton was 
evacuated from the front after the battle, ill from exposure. He 
learned at the hospital that Michael Steinfels had been invalided 
out of the Army, with a permanently stiff elbow. Ferdinand 
Capdevielle was promoted corporal quartermaster, because of 
the part he took in the defense of Vaux. 

The German onslaught against Verdun was temporarily 
halted, and the opposing armies caught their breath for a mo- 
ment. General Joffre was pleased with the efforts of his soldiers, 
and thanked them in undying words: 

Germany... had not reckoned with you Of you it will be said: 

they barred to the Germans the way to Verdun. 


The flag now reposes in the great French IVar Museum at the Hotel des Invaiides, Paris 

Camp de La Valbonne, June, igij 

Les H iron dell es de la Mort 

The men of the One Hundred and Seventieth Line Infantry- 
Regiment, including the handful of American volunteers, be- 
longed to the phalanx of heroes to which the French Com- 
mander-in-Chief's praise was addressed. 


The One Hundred and Seventieth next occupied reserve 
trenches on the Verdun front, always under the enemy bom- 
bardment. Men arrived from the regimental depots to fill the 
gaps in the ranks. More machine guns were issued, and a new 
model automatic rifle which could be employed by one man was 
distributed. Two of these guns were equal in rapidity of fire to 
one machine gun, and they rendered great service because of the 
ease with which they were handled. 

The enemy continued to pound away relentlessly at the 
French defenses, seemingly having an unlimited supply of am- 
munition and men. The German infantry used great quantities 
of burning liquid thrown from perfected lance-flames, and 
slowly but surely seemed to be eating its way toward Verdun, 
which the German High Command now proclaimed was the 
very 'heart of France.' 

General Mangin, one of the greatest gainers of victories the 
war revealed, threw his Fifth Division — iron fighting men all 
— forward to retake some of the most important gains. The 
One Hundred and Seventieth counter-attacked on May I in the 
strategically necessary Caillette Wood. Capdevielle depicted the 
struggle there: 

'It was the hardest fighting of all. We marched to the firing 
line in the dark, picking our way by the dead bodies lining the 
route. The Germans were shelling us to the best of their ability, 
and our guns replied vigorously. No small artillery was used, 
but the biggest cannon on each side. 

'After a stay in a poorly made open trench, we were ordered 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

to charge the Germans. The boys were glad to be in action, and 
covered the distance between them and the Boches in a hurry. 
Some of us had trench knives. Charles Hoffecker practically 
decapitated four Huns before he was struck by shell fragments 
and gravely wounded. Several of the Americans won much 
praise by their work.' 

Charles Hoffecker died at the field hospital on May 3, two 
days after he was wounded. His body was riddled with shell 
fragments, and he could not be saved. Before he died, his 
colonel pinned on his breast the Medaille Militaire and the 
Croix de Guerre, and he was cited in Army Orders as a valorous 
American volunteer, mortally wounded after he killed several 
of the enemy in a bayonet assault against the German trenches. 

A number of the Americans were sent to the hospital with 
wounds received in the Caillette Wood. William Dugan was 
hit in the arms and shoulder by shell fragments. A shrapnel 
ball passed through Marius Rocle's arm. Bob Scanlon had a 
big hole torn in his left hand by a piece of shell-casing, and 
David King was struck in the side by a large stone thrown up 
by a shell explosion. 

Eugene Jacob and John Laurent were reported missing for 
several hours. Their section of machine-gunners was sur- 
rounded for a time by the enemy, and attacked with flame- 
throwers. Relief arrived, in time to save the men from a fright- 
ful death. Laurent and Corporal Dupont were later gassed 
and sent to the rear; Laurent was assigned to drive a motor- 
truck, because of his age and weakened condition. 

Robert Mulhauser was promoted from sergeant to sous- 
lieutenant, and decorated with the Croix de Guerre, a fine cita- 
tion accompanying the medal: 

An American citizen, enlisted voluntarily for the duration of the 
war. At the front since October, 1914, he especially distinguished him- 
self at Verdun on May 1, 1916, and on the following days, where as 
chief of a section he gave proof of great courage and energy. 


Les Hirondelles de la Mort 

Eugene Jacob was made a sergeant, and awarded the Croix de 
Guerre with this mention: 

An American volunteer: an excellent non-commissioned officer, of 
remarkable devotion and sang-froid; during the sojourn of his regi- 
ment in the trenches he accomplished with the greatest contempt of 
danger difficult missions under intense bombardments. 

Capdevielle was given the Croix de Guerre for his coolness and 
bravery as a dispatch-bearer under fire, and William Dugan 
gained the same decoration with a citation which said that 
'during the attack of May i, 1916, he joined bravely in the 
assault of the enemy trenches and took several prisoners.' 

Elov Nilson was made interpreter, and decorated with the 
Croix de Guerre, with seven remarkable mentions: 

1. During a severe bombardment while fetching food he stopped 
and bandaged a badly wounded comrade after the others had taken 
shelter, carried him three hundred metres to safety and later fifteen 
hundred metres to a first-aid station. 

2. In broad daylight during a heavy bombardment he accompanied 
a sergeant between the lines to seek two comrades who had been 
wounded the night before. 

3. When sent as an interpreter for a convoy of twenty-eight prison- 
ers, the officer commanding being killed on the way, Nilson took 
charge of the party and, assisted by only three guards, escorted the 
convoy safely to headquarters, twenty-five kilometres distant. 

4. He valorously went from the food station to the front-line 
trenches during a terrific bombardment and carried fifty litres of wine 
and a quantity of food for a company which had been forty-eight 
hours without nourishment. 

5. He valorously buried five friends killed between the lines where 
the trenches were only thirty-five metres apart. 

6. Remained alone at a listening-post for six hours during a violent 
bombardment after seven comrades had been killed, thereby saving 
the entire line. 

7. Stayed with and bandaged the badly wounded chief of his sec- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

tion, and at the muzzle of his revolver compelled the stretcher-bearers 
of another regiment to carry the chief to a first-aid station. 

Jacob and Nilson were both proposed for the Medaille 
Militaire, the most ardently coveted decoration to be won in 
the French Army. 

The retaking by the French of the Caillette Wood freed the 
approaches to Souville Fort and to the north of Vaux, and 
greatly lessened the enemy pressure on Verdun. The battle 
continued to rage, however, while the One Hundred and Seven- 
tieth rested and refilled its depleted ranks at a Meusian village 
within cannon sound of the fighting line, ready to take its place 
in the first defense at a moment's notice. 

Hindenburg afterwards said of the struggle for Verdun: 'The 
battles which were fought in this region exhausted our strength 
as does a wound which will not heal.' 

Chapter X 


The Legionnaires had all been wondering why they 
were not sent to Verdun. Most of the shock regiments 
of the French Army passed one after the other through 
the ordeal of battle there, and the Legion was not accustomed 
to be kept away from where the struggle was fiercest. 

General JofTre knew what he was about, however. In De- 
cember, 191 5, weeks before the storm broke around Verdun, 
he had decided upon a huge-scale attack against the German 
lines in the Somme, to take place during the summer of 191 6, in 
conjunction with the British forces, and throughout the darkest 
days of the struggle for Verdun he continued his preparations 
for this offensive action. Just the number of divisions necessary 
to hold back the Germans from Verdun were sent into the 
battle-line there, and a splendid reserve army was put in readi- 
ness for the Franco-British assault. 

The German positions in the Somme were exceptionally 
formidable. Already well defended by nature, they had been 
strengthened further by every device known to military 
engineers. Each village and every wood was a fortress; every 
house an armored blockhouse. The network of trenches and 
barbed-wire entanglements lay several miles deep, and it had 
been easy to burrow deep into the chalky soil, and make dug- 
outs that were entirely shell-proof. Machine-gun redoubts 
were thickly strewn all along the line, so placed that a handful 
of men could defend a wide front. 

The Legion quit its trenches opposite Lassigny on June 
21, entrained at Estrees-Saint-Denis, and after a few hours' 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

stuffy ride debarked at Villers-Bretonneux. Two of the bat- 
talions went into cantonment at Bayonvillers, awaiting the 
hour of attack, while the First Battalion worked in the Dom- 
pierre sector and prepared approach trenches. 

Nelson Larsen arrived with a detachment of reinforcements. 
He had spent almost a year in a Brittany hospital, where a skil- 
ful facial surgeon had rebuilt his chin, which had been shot 
away on June 16, 1915. Edgar Bouligny, Wilfred Michaud, 
Frank Whitmore, Frank Clair, Robert Whidby, James Bracy, 
Jack Moyet, Jimmie Paul, and other Americans were among 
the men who arrived from La Valbonne, and the three bat- 
talions of the Legion were built up to full strength. 

Alan Seeger wrote on June 28: 

'We go up to the attack to-morrow. This will probably be 
the biggest thing yet. We are to have the honor of marching in 
the first^wave. No sacks, but two musettes, toile de tente slung over 
shoulder, plenty of cartridges, grenades, and baionnette au canon. 

'I am glad to be going in the first wave. If you are in this 
thing at all, it is best to be in to the limit. And this is the 
supreme experience.' 

Seeger had just been given one of the new machine-gun 
rifles. He found it ' an excellent weapon and ought to give good 
results. I am glad to have charge of one, for it is a more or less 
responsible position, and one where there is a chance for per- 
sonal initiative.' 

On July 1, the Franco-British troops attacked along a forty- 
kilometre front, and occupied the first-line German positions 
without too much difficulty. The defenders were absolutely 
dazed from the preparatory bombardment, which had wiped 
their barbed-wire belts and trenches from the face of the earth. 
The Legion was being held in reserve for the assault against 
the second-line defenses, and followed the regiments which took 
the first positions. Christopher Charles, who was operating a 
machine gun, wrote a lively account of the operations: 


The Somme 

'On the morning of July I we arrived at a first-line German 
trench, which a Colonial regiment had just taken. The regi- 
ment in front of us was steadily advancing, and we followed in 
support until the night of July 3, when we moved up in front 
and relieved the other regiment. The Colonials had pushed 
the Germans into the open country, and so, when we relieved 
them, we went into open fields and lay all night without shelter 
or protection. 

'July 4 was calm until three o'clock in the afternoon, when 
our famous seventy-fives began to clear the way for us. The 
artillery pounded the Germans for more than two hours, and 
at five o'clock came the order to charge. The boys rose from 
where they had been lying and started forward. The Germans, 
seeing us, began a heavy bombardment with field guns and 
fusillade with rifles and machine guns, but it did not stop the 
Legion. We kept straight on. Being in the machine-gun 
section, I was not in the first wave of the assault and so had a 
fine view of the charge. It was great to see the boys crossing 
the hill. The Germans were about eight hundred metres away. 
The boys walked at an easy gait until they were within two 
hundred yards of the enemy. They were then within good 
range of German rifles and rapid-firers and they began falling 

'When the boys saw their friends falling, they got mad and 
went forward like a cyclone. In five minutes they had taken 
the German trenches and more than two hundred prisoners, 
the enemy not resisting vigorously when at close quarters. My 
section reached the trenches before the fighting was over and 
had a hand in it. We took a few minutes' rest in the captured 
trenches, while the prisoners were being taken to the rear. 
Oscar Mouvet shouted to me: "We won't get to Paris July 4, 
but I will be there before you." The American volunteers would 
have been given a holiday in Paris but for the offensive. 

'We started again for the Germans, who had taken position 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

in the strongly fortified village of Belloy-en-Santerre, a short 
distance ahead. When about two hundred yards from the 
Germans, we lay down for a little rest, and then with a shout 
we attacked the village. As we reached the outskirts, Mouvet 
was hit, and he started crawling for the rear, shouting: "Good- 
bye, boys. Me for Paris ! " The village was a hard proposition, 
as the Boches put up a stiff resistance. The fighting was from 
house to house. It was costly work, as every shelter had to be 
cleared. Many of the houses were in good condition, as they 
were far from our heaviest bombardment. 

' In a fight in one of the houses Wilfred Michaud was killed. 
He had just run his bayonet through a German when another 
German shot him with a revolver. He fell, shouting: "I die 
happy, because I have killed a Boche!" A German ran out of 
a cellar and threw a grenade at Frank Whitmore, who was 
badly cut by the fragments. Frank Clair was gravely wounded. 
Marcel Collett, whose twin brother Joseph recently was killed 
in the trenches, was hit three times by machine-gun bullets. 
Nothing could stop the Legion. Within twenty minutes 
Belloy-en-Santerre was cleared of Germans, and we had taken 
more than three hundred additional prisoners. 

'When we had cleaned the village houses thoroughly of the 
Germans, we took a little rest, after which we started forward 
again and chased the Boches three kilometres, over open coun- 
try. We then reached a thick hedge where the Germans put up 
an awful battle. They fought stubbornly and counter-attacked 
three times. The last time they came in heavy force and com- 
pelled us to drop back a little way. One of our machine guns, 
which could not be moved back in time, was lost. In the fight 
for the gun, John Charton was killed. He was kneeling, firing 
and reloading his rifle when a bullet pierced his heart. 

'For an hour we had a hot time. We had great difficulty in 
keeping the Germans back. At the end our supply of cartridges 
ran low and we had to let up on firing. The Germans, seeing 


The Somme 

that we had stopped, started forward through a little trench 
they had dug behind the hedge. Here Jimmie Paul showed 
what a cool head could do. He and a lot more of us did not have 
any cartridges left, but he seized a box of hand grenades in our 
temporary trench and for fifteen minutes we held a company 
of Germans back. 

'The Legion was spread out over a long distance of the line, 
and judging from the light firing the whole outfit was out of 
ammunition. When our supply of hand grenades ran out, there 
was only one thing for the Legion to do. We charged forward, 
took with the bayonet the German trenches and several hun- 
dred prisoners, and then with the enemy's own rifles and 
grenades held back the reinforcements which rushed forward 
to attack us. 

'At midnight other sections relieved us and we returned to 
the second line, where we found a hot meal. Believe me, we 
suddenly discovered that we were a hungry lot of men. We 
surely did eat. We had done a good day's work, and everybody 
was happy and contented. The boys in the first line also had 
a hot meal, for that night the rolling kitchens went right up to 
the firing trenches, and dished out "eats" and wine. For here 
it is realized that a man must eat to fight well. The Germans 
counter-attacked three times that night, but there is no regi- 
ment in all Germany which the Legion cannot stop. 

'July 5 was a quiet day and the Legion was relieved and we 
retired to the third-line trenches, where we slept and enjoyed 
a much-needed rest until the 7th, when we started forward 
again. It began raining and continued to rain all night. The 
boys had a hard time, wading to the first line through the com- 
munication trenches, walking ankle-deep in the bloody mire 
over the ground just taken from the Germans and where no one 
had had time to bury the dead. The Germans shelled us vigor- 
ously. There were no shelters and the first-line trenches were 
only shallow ones, which the Germans had dug the day before. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

We stood in the rairTand mud all night firing away into the 

'At eight o'clock in the morning the order came to prepare 
to attack. At ten o'clock, when it stopped raining, the boys 
were wet to the skin. I was so tired that I had fallen down 
asleep in the mud. I was so covered with mud that, when 
Colonel Cot came, he walked right on me. I gave a grunt, and 
then he had to laugh when he looked at me. Seeing how tired 
his men were, he stopped the preparations for the attack. At 
3 p.m. an order came saying that the Germans had fallen back 
into better positions and for us to go after them. We went. 

'On the morning of the ioth we were relieved and sent to the 
rear. It was an unforgettable sight to see the bit left of the 
Legion coming along the road. Some were playing on flutes 
taken from the Germans, others were singing, but all were dead 
tired. I was all in. 

'Here in the cantonment I have seen Whidby, Jimmie Paul, 
and Jack Moyet, who pulled through. How the others fared, 
I do not know. It is rumored that Alan Seeger was hit, but I 
have not seen him. Billy Thorin, Arthur Barry, and Henry 
Claude have just arrived from La Valbonne.' 

Jack Moyet added to Charles's story of the battle: 

'I am a grenade-thrower for my squad, and so was in the 
first wave of attack. I was much impressed by the conduct of 
the priest of my battalion, a tall, full-bearded man, who has 
been with the Legion for several years. He ran right along 
behind the grenade-throwers, holding aloft his crucifix and 
crying: "Long live the Legion! Forward for France!" 

'With two comrades and my sergeant, who is a German- 
Swiss, I sprang into a cellar at the edge of Belloy-en-Santerre. 
A German Major was talking over the telephone. When we 
rushed upon him, he sprang up and shouted: "All right! I sur- 
render! But you only get me alive because my best friend is 
here wounded!" 



The officer is holding his watch in his hand waiting for the 'zero hour' 

The Somme 

'A little farther along, a number of Germans tried to get out 
of a dugout to set up a machine gun. We drove them back in- 
side their shelter, hastily blocked the entrance except for a small 
hole, and hurled grenades in on the Boches. We afterwards 
learned that we killed over sixty Germans in that one dugout. 

'In several of the cemented cellars in the village we found 
sheep, cows, and horses, and in one cellar was a civilian, the sole 
inhabitant of the place who had refused to leave when Belloy 
began to be bombarded. He told us that until a few days before 
about eighty civilians had been staying in their homes. He did 
not stop long to talk with us, but asked where our kitchens were 
and set off to get some food. 

'After the fight we counted more than one thousand dead 
Germans, and we had taken about eight hundred unwounded 
prisoners — more than the number of valid Legionnaires we 
had left. The Germans have a great fear of the Legion, but an 
even greater fear of the Senegalese, who fight alongside us, and 
they always prefer to surrender to us. 

'We fought in the region of Belloy for several days, and then 
we went out some distance beyond any trenches and were 
ordered to charge some German earthworks at the foot of a 
long, rolling hill. Just as we started to advance, my Captain, 
an extremely brave Annamite named Do-Hu-Vi, was shot 
dead at my side. Many of my comrades fell in the charge. 
There were two brothers from Luxembourg, who always had 
been together. One fell with a bullet through his forehead; the 
other sprang in advance and shouted: "Forward to avenge my 
brother!" He passed through the attack safely, and was given 
the War Cross with a fine citation. 

{ We ran into an awful entanglement of barbed wire, machine- 
gun pits, and traps of all kinds. We killed all the enemy there, 
but were held up on the hillside by other machine guns. Our 
field cannon came up and shelled the Germans, who were 
strongly entrenched ahead of us. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'Among the dead I noticed one German Lieutenant who had 
been killed as he was watching us through his field glasses. A 
bullet had passed through one of the lenses of the glasses and 
gone into his eye. 

'Some of the German dugouts in the region were seventy- 
five feet deep and arranged as regular underground skyscrapers, 
only they "scraped" in the wrong direction. Many Germans 
were buried alive in these cagnas by our shell-fire. 

'The Legion lost many men during all this fighting. My bat- 
talion chief, Commandant James Waddell, a New Zealander 
with fourteen years' service and a fine record in the Legion, 
was one of the few officers to come out of the fighting alive.' 

The deeds of heroism accomplished by the Legionnaires were 
innumerable. At dawn of July 5 the Germans made a desperate 
effort to recapture Belloy-en-Santerre. Making a turning move- 
ment along the Barleux road, they surprised, before it was yet 
daylight, the remnants of three sections of Legionnaires who 
were guarding Belloy Park. 

The Corsican Pasqualaggi, now a sous-lieutenant, was sent in 
haste with a section of men to reestablish the situation. 

'I count absolutely upon you,' the captain commanding the 
battalion told him. 

Pasqualaggi posted his section along the route from Belloy 
to Barleux, and thus cut off from retreat the Germans in the 
park, at the same time blocking the way for reinforcements. 
A company of Germans hastening up to aid their comrades 
were shot down with machine guns. The Germans in the park 
then attempted to cut their way out. 

They dragged with them a group of unarmed Legionnaire 
prisoners. Pasqualaggi at first thought it was a ruse on the 
part of the enemy to get him to hold up his fire; then he recog- 
nized one of his comrades, Lieutenant Benoit, who had been 
slightly wounded the day before. Quick as a flash, he shouted 
to the captives: 'Lie down!' The latter instantly fell flat on 


The Somme 

the ground, and the mitrailleuses opened up on their captors. 
Most of the Germans untouched by the first salvo threw up 
their hands and surrendered. A few tried to get away, dragging 
the wounded Lieutenant Benoit with them, but their late 
prisoners jumped upon them, and with hands, feet, and steel 
helmets beat them into submission. 

During the attack on the Boyau du Chancelier, Commandant 
Waddell wanted to send a message to the company of Captain 
Do-Hu-Vi, which was held up in an open field by an intense 
machine-gun fire. The first liaison agent was killed, and a 
second one and a third wounded. 

The order must be delivered. The Legionnaire Morel offered 
to carry it. He managed to get through the storm of bullets 
and arrived at the company, to find Captain Do-Hu-Vi killed, 
and Lieutenant Octobon, the second in command, grievously 
wounded by a bullet in the stomach. Morel bandaged the 
wound, then with a small shovel dug a shallow boyau across the 
exposed field to a shell-pit ten metres away, and carefully 
dragged the wounded officer over into the shelter. He installed 
Octobon as comfortably as possible, then made his way back to 
Waddell's post of commandment and reported on the situation. 

At nightfall Morel guided stretcher-bearers across the battle- 
swept field to where the Lieutenant lay, and saw him safely on 
the way to the hospital. 

Two of the three battalion chiefs, Commandants Mouchet 
and Ruelland, were killed; and three captains: Do-Hu-Vi, 
Marollf, a Swiss volunteer, and Littre, a veteran of numerous 
African campaigns. Do-Hu-Vi was the son of an immensely 
rich Annam mandarin, and started the war in the French Army 
Aviation. He was wounded as an aviator and unfitted for 
further flying, and asked to serve in the Legion. Lieutenant 
Sotiropoulos, a Greek volunteer, and nine other lieutenants 
were among the dead, and almost all the other officers were 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

More American volunteers were killed during the storming 
of Belloy-en-Santerre on July 4 than in any other battle of the 
Legion. Alan Seeger fell mortally wounded early in the charge. 
One of his friends,_Corporal Barret, an Irish volunteer, wrote: 

'Seeger was wounded horribly by six explosive bullets from 
machine guns whose fire met the first wave of attack and caused 
heavy losses at Belloy-en-Santerre. Eye-witnesses belonging to 
his squad gave me information which makes it appear he was 
not killed instantly, as he had taken off his equipment, his over- 
coat and his shirt, to dress his wounds. He stuck his rifle, with 
bayonet fixed, in the ground to show the stretcher-bearers a 
wounded man was near, according to a general custom which 
aids the hospital corps at night. 

'Five out of forty-five in his section survived the attack, and 
they say he was absolutely indifferent to the hail of lead and 
steel. He died as he lived, indifferent to danger, a real soldier 
and a hero. Often I think of his cheery smile as he advanced 
against the German guns, which he simply despised.' 

Rif Bear, the singing Egyptian of Toulouse, who had become 
Seeger's closest friend in the Legion, told at more length of the 
young American poet's last charge: 

'The first section (Alan's section) formed the right and van- 
guard of the company, and mine formed the left wing. After 
the first bound forward, we lay flat on the ground, and I saw 
the first section advancing beyond us and making toward the 
extreme right of the village of Belloy-en-Santerre. I caught 
sight of Seeger and called to him, making a sign with my hand. 

'He answered with a smile. How pale he was! His tall sil- 
houette stood out on the green of the cornfield. He was the 
tallest man in his section. His head erect and pride in his eye, 
I saw him running forward, with bayonet fixed. Soon he dis- 
appeared and that was the last time I saw my friend. 

'"Forward!" And we made a second bound, right to the 
wave of assault, which we left behind a little, and down we 


The Somme 

threw ourselves again. The fusillade became more and more 
intense, reaching a paroxysm. The mitrailleuses mow men 
down and the cannons thunder in desperation. Bodies are 
crushed and torn to fragments by the shells, and the wounded 
groan as they await death, for all hope of escaping alive from 
such a hell has fled. 

'The air is saturated with the smell of powder and blood, 
everywhere the din is deafening; men are torn with impatience 
at having to remain without moving under such a fire. We 
struggle even for breath, and cries resound from every side. 
Suddenly a word of command, an order of deliverance, passes 
from mouth to mouth. "Forward! With bayonets!" — the 
command that Seeger had awaited so long. 

'In an irresistible sublime dash, we hurled ourselves to the 
assault, offering our bodies as a target. It was at this moment 
that Alan Seeger fell heavily wounded in the stomach. His 
comrades saw him fall and crawl into the shelter of a shell-hole. 
Since that minute nobody saw him alive. 

'I will spare you an account of the rest of the battle. As 
soon as the enemy was driven back and Belloy-en-Santerre 

won, I searched for news of Seeger Thus ended this Fourth 

of July that Seeger had hoped to celebrate in Paris. On the next 
day we were relieved from the first lines and sent into reserve 
lines. A fatigue party was left to identify the dead. 

'Seeger was found dead. His body was naked, his shirt and 
tunic being beside him and his rifle planted in the ground with 
the butt in the air. He had tied a handkerchief to the butt to 
attract the attention of the stretcher-bearers. He was lying on 
his side with his legs bent. 

'It was at night by the light of a pocket electric light that 
he was hastily recognized. Stretcher-bearers took the body and 
buried it next day in the one big grave made for the regiment, 
where lie hundreds of bodies. This tomb is situated at the 
Hill 76 to the south of Belloy-en-Santerre,' 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

George Delpeuch charged by Seeger's side, and fell with a 
bullet through the groin. He saw Seeger go down, and heard 
him call for help, crying: 'Oh! My stomach!' He tried to crawl 
to Seeger, but found himself paralyzed. Seeger cried out again 
several times, and asked for water. Then Delpeuch heard him 
call for his mother, and thereafter he was still. 

Captain de Tscharner, a Swiss volunteer who resigned his 
commission as colonel in the Swiss cavalry to enlist in the 
Foreign Legion with a humbler rank, and himself wounded at 
the taking of Belloy-en-Santerre, wrote: 

'it was between six and seven o'clock in the evening. 

'The Ninth, then the Eleventh Company had formed the 
right column of the Third Battalion which had attacked the 
south side of Belloy-en-Santerre. 

'At three hundred metres of the village, taken in the flank 
by a terrible fire from the enemy mitrailleuses hidden in the 
sunken Estrees-Belloy road, the Eleventh Company had suf- 
fered cruelly. 

'In a relatively narrow space of terrain, all the officers and 
under-officers had fallen. The immense prairie, with its un- 
cultivated herbage, was covered with wounded men. 

'With a splendid dash and devotion, the elements still intact, 
conducted by the corporals and the most audacious Legion- 
naires, continued the assault. By columns or in lines by squads, 
crawling, the eyes brilliant, a smile on the lips, recomforting 
their wounded comrades as they passed, the men of the second 
wave pushed on in advance in the given direction. 

'Lying in the high grass, the wounded called to each other. 
Those who could still drag themselves along tried to form a 
group. But whoever lifted his head was immediately cut down. 

'Then, upon the immense field there came a great silence 
which was troubled only by the whistling of bullets and groans. 

'Suddenly, from the direction of the village, the piercing 
notes of a bugle sounded the charge. One heard the cries of the 


The Somme 

final assault, the dull bursting of grenades, and the rattling of 
the machine guns redoubled in intensity — The survivors of 
the Third Battalion had taken Belloy-en-Santerre. 

' In that moment, there happened something sublime. Among 
the wounded and the dying, one heard suddenly a vibrant cry: 
" They are there! They are there I Belloy is taken!" 

'Above the grass, the wounded lifted themselves; each one 
wanted to try to see, to try, by a last effort, to accompany the 
more fortunate comrades. 

'Then an immense clamor, coming I know not from where, 
uttered by voices weakened, but male and triumphant, domi- 
nated the tumult of the combat and filled all the field of battle: 
' " Vive la Legion! Vive la France! Vive la France!" 

'It was the wounded Legionnaires who were taking their part 
in the victory.' 

Perhaps, with his last atom of strength and his final breath 
of life, Alan Seeger was one of those stricken men who raised 
themselves up to cheer the victorious Legion. 

Nelson Larsen was killed in the streets of Belloy. His squad 
attacked a German machine-gun battery that occupied a well- 
protected position in an armored cellar, from which its fire 
swept a wide section of field and street. The Legionnaires crept 
up in the shelter of the shattered walls until they were almost 
upon the Germans. Then they rushed forward, sprang into the 
cellar, and bayoneted the enemy. During the onrush Larsen 
was riddled with bullets at close range. 

Charles Boismaure was killed just after his company left its 
attack trenches in the ruins of Assevillers village, long before 
Belloy was reached by his comrades. Maurice Leuethman, a 
young volunteer from Brooklyn, New York, who had enlisted 
at Orleans in August, 1914, was fatally wounded, and Frank 
Clair also died of his wounds the day following the attack, 
Siegfried Narvitz, the philosopher, was killed by machine-gun 
bullets as he bravely dashed forward against the enemy lines, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and Joe Jackson, a tall/coal-black musician from St. Louis, 
Missouri, was also slain. 

Camille Campanya, an accomplished young Spanish writer, 
was cut down by death not far from where Alan Seeger 

The common grave, in which the dead were laid to rest, was 
right under the fire of the German guns, and so thoroughly was 
the sector bombarded that within a few days not a trace of it 
could be found. 

In addition to the nine Americans killed, a number were 
wounded. Louis Haeffle was slightly wounded by shell frag- 
ments on July 3, while the Legion was supporting the front 
line of attack. Theodore Haas received his second wound at 
Belloy, and Tony Paullet was shot through the body and at 
first left for dead. George Delpeuch and Marcel Collett lay for 
many hours on the battlefield before they were discovered by 
stretcher-bearers, as they were too weak to call out to the men 
who at night sought for the dead and wounded by the light of 
electric torches. 

Louis Charton helped to bury the body of his brother, and 
on July 9 was himself gravely wounded during the attack on 
the Boyau du Chancelier. 

The Legion spent a day in the old reserve trenches at Dom- 
pierre, then marched back to Villers-Bretonneux, and entrained 
for Montiers and Saint-Martin-aux-Bois. New officers and men 
joined the Regiment, and on July 30 the Legionnaires went into 
the trenches at Plessier-du-Roye, just north of the sector where 
they had been before the Belloy-en-Santerre attack. 

A fourth citation in French Army Orders was given the 
Legion : 

Under the energetic commandment of its chief, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Cot, the Regiment de Marche de la Legion Etrangere, ordered, the 4th of 
July, 1 91 6, to take a village strongly occupied by the enemy, threw 
itself forward to the attack with a remarkable vigor and spirit, con- 


The Somme 

quered the village with the bayonet, broke the desperate resistance of 
the Germans and opposed itself afterwards to all the counter-attacks 
of the reinforcements brought up during the night of the 4th to the 
5th of July. 

Captured seven hundred and fifty prisoners, including fifteen offi- 
cers, and took many mitrailleuses. 

Many of the officers and Legionnaires were mentioned in 
Army Orders and decorated. The Croix de Guerre with a mer- 
ited citation was bestowed posthumously upon Alan Seeger: 

An enthusiastic and heroic young American, loving France passion- 
ately. Enlisted voluntarily since the beginning of hostilities, he has 
given proof in the course of the campaign of an admirable courage 
and spirit. Fell gloriously the 4th of July, 1916, during the attack of 
Belloy-en-S an terre. 

Michaud was cited as a 'good and energetic soldier, who fell 
gloriously on July 4, 191 6, as he threw himself forward in the 
assault of the German position,' and Leuethman and Larsen 
were also mentioned honorably in an Order of the Day. 

James Paul Demetre was decorated with the Croix de Guerre. 
His citation mentioned his bravery and presence of mind during 
the sunset fight beyond Belloy-en-Santerre, and stated that he 
hurled sixty-eight hand grenades into the German ranks. John 
Charton received the same medal, and was called 'an excellent 
soldier who displayed a remarkable courage on July 9, 1916. 
He was wounded as he advanced to the attack of a German 

The Croix de Guerre was given to Frank Whitmore ; his cita- 
tion called him a 'good soldier, energetic and very calm,' and 
noted that, in addition to having been wounded on March 8, 
191 5, he refused to go to the rear on July 4, after being wounded 
twice, until his arm got too stiff to throw any more grenades. 

George Delpeuch was awarded a palm for his Croix de Guerre. 
He lay in the hospital for many months before his wound healed. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Joseph Phillips and Nick Karayinis were both cited in the 
Order of the Regiment, and decorated with the Croix de Guerre. 

The entire Marching Regiment of the Legion was granted a 
new emblem of merit instituted by the French War Depart- 
ment, known as the fourragere, which was bestowed only upon 
regiments, battalions, and companies that had greatly dis- 
tinguished themselves in battle and won at least two citations 
in Army Orders. The fourragere was a heavy braided cord com- 
posed of red and green strands, the colors shown in the ribbon 
of the Croix de Guerre. It was worn looped over the left shoulder 
with an end tucked into the bosom of the coat or tunic, and 
formed an integral part of the uniform of the men belonging to 
corps entitled to it. The Legionnaires were very proud of the 
ornamental insignia of their regiment's courage and distinction. 

Jimmy Bracy gave an element of comedy to the storming of 
Belloy-en-Santerre. He had been given a pair of huge wire- 
cutters, to use on the German barbed-wire belts, and before the 
charge he attached the instrument to his waist by a cord. 
When the order to attack was given, the darky rushed madly 
about, his face ashy, and the wire-cutters dangling almost to 
the ground between his bowed legs. He was sent back to Lyon 
shortly after the battle, and was discharged from the Legion. 

Chapter XI 


On April 16, 1916, there was formed at Luxeuil-les-Bains, 
an ancient town and watering-place in the foothills of 
the Vosges Mountains, the Escadrille de Chasse Nieu- 
port 124 of the French Military Aviation, which took as its 
name Y Escadrille Ame'ricaine, and was composed of American 
volunteer aviators under the command of French officers. Four 
of the seven original members of the Escadrille, Victor Chap- 
man, Kiffin Rockwell, William Thaw, and Bert Hall, came from 
the ranks of the Foreign Legion. 

Thaw was a lieutenant, and had been flying at the front for 
over a year, where he had won his rank and the Croix de Guerre 
with two citations. Victor Chapman and Kiffin Rockwell were 
corporals, and had been flying as members of the Paris Air 
Guard, after they had received their pilot's brevet at the Camp 

It had been extremely difficult to gain the consent of the 
French War Department to the formation of an escadrille of 
American aviators. An American had joined the French Mili- 
tary Aviation early in the war. After some weeks of training at 
Pau, he had deserted, and returned to America, where he gave 
out sensational and false interviews to newspapers about the 
French Aviation. He was also strongly suspected of having sold 
information to the German Embassy at Washington. This 
experience had made the French Government very wary of 
American volunteer aviators. Bert Hall especially was re- 
garded with suspicion, and during the months he was in training 
at Avord, he was closely watched by Army Secret Service men. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Two Army detectives, disguised as student pilots, followed him 
about, and slept in bunks on either side of his in the barracks. 

The increasing number of American youths who were apply- 
ing for admission to the French Army as aviators finally de- 
cided the formation of the Escadrille Americaine. To get into 
the French Aviation, a foreigner had to enlist first in the Foreign 
Legion, but several Americans, including Dudley L. Hill, 
Charles Chouteau Johnson, Clyde Balsley, James Roger Mc- 
Connell, Robert L. Rockwell, Ronald W. Hoskier, Edwin C. 
Parsons, Harold B. Willis, Kenneth Marr, James Norman Hall, 
and others, were allowed to transfer directly to the Flying 
Corps, without serving in the trenches. 

Frederick Zinn was changed to the Aviation on February 14, 
1 91 6, and Soubiran and Dowd were transferred as soon as they 
recovered from their Champagne battle wounds. Edmond 
Genet and ChatkofT ( who had dropped his old Christian name 
of Herman for the more American one of Lincoln, because his 
comrades had teased him that Herman sounded 'Boche') left 
the trenches of the Legion to become student pilots late in 
May. Marius Rocle and William Dugan also entered the flying 
school at Buc, in early June, when they got out of the hospital 
from their Verdun wounds. 

The American Escadrille at Luxeuil was some time in getting 
its little Nieuport chasing aeroplanes, but as soon as they ar- 
rived began its task of patrolling the air over the battle lines in 
reconquered Alsace. The first victory of the Escadrille was won 
on May 18 by Kiffin Rockwell, who wrote of his triumph as 

'This morning I went over the lines to make a little tour. I 
was a little the other side of the lines, when my motor began to 
miss a bit. I turned around to go to a camp near the lines. Just 
as I started to head for there, I saw a Boche machine about 
seven hundred metres under me and a little inside our lines. 
I immediately reduced my motor, and dived for him. He saw 


Escadrille Lafayette 

me at the same time, and began to dive toward his lines. It 
was a machine with a pilot and a mitrailleur, with two mitrail- 
leuses, one facing the front and one the rear that turned on a 
pivot, so he (the gunner) could fire in any direction. He im- 
mediately opened fire on me and my machine was hit, but I 
didn't pay any attention to that and kept going straight for 
him, until I got within twenty-five or thirty metres of him. 
Then, just as I was afraid of running into him, I fired four or 
five shots, then swerved my machine to the right to keep from 
running into him. As I did that, I saw the mitrailleur fall back 
dead on the pilot, the mitrailleuse fall from its position and 
point straight up in the air, the pilot fall to one side as if he was 
done for also. The machine itself fell first to one side, then 
dived vertically toward the ground with a lot of smoke coming 
out of the rear. I circled around, and three or four minutes 
later saw a lot of smoke coming up from the ground just beyond 
the German trenches. I had hoped that it would fall in our lines, 
as it is hard to prove when they fall in the German lines. The 
post of observation signalled seeing the machine fall, and the 
smoke. The captain said he would propose me for the Medaille 
Militaire, but I don't know whether I will get it or not/ 

The Escadrille was ordered to Verdun the day after KifHn 
Rockwell's victory, and immediately threw itself with ardor 
into the battle there. Kiffin Rockwell wrote on May 23: 

'The Escadrille was ordered up here where the great fighting 
is going on and we have plenty to do to keep us busy. I have 
been pretty much on the go and am tired out for lack of sleep. 
Words are impossible to express one's impressions here, as this 
is the greatest thing in the history of the world. Yesterday 
afternoon, I flew for two hours circling around the "Mort 
Homme" at a very low altitude, protecting the observation 
machines. The most terrible fighting was going on underneath 
me the whole time. But I am not going to try to express my 
impressions, because I can't. At the same time I was doing 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

that, one of my friends was over my head, about fifteen hundred 
feet high, having a death struggle with a German machine, 
which he succeeded in bringing down.' 

On a dawn patrol on May 24, Thaw and Kiffin Rockwell 
attacked a group of Fokkers beyond Verdun ; Thaw destroyed 
one, and the others were driven to their flying field. Later in the 
morning, the entire escadrille engaged in combats with the 
enemy machines which swarmed over the sector. William Thaw 
was wounded in the arm; Victor Chapman destroyed a Fokker, 
and was slightly wounded in the arm; Kiffin Rockwell fought 
eight different aerial duels, destroyed an enemy aeroplane, and 
was wounded in the face by an explosive bullet. Thaw's arm 
was broken, and he was taken away to the hospital; Chapman 
and Kiffin Rockwell had their hurts dressed, and remained at 
the front. 

Thaw was decorated with the Legion of Honor, with a note- 
worthy citation: 

A volunteer for^the duration of the war. A pilot remarkable for his 
skill, his spirit, and his contempt of danger. Has recently delivered 
eighteen aerial combats at short distance. May 24 at daybreak he at- 
tacked and destroyed an enemy aeroplane. The same evening he 
attacked a group of three German machines and pursued them from 
four thousand metres down to one thousand metres of altitude. Pain- 
fully wounded during the combat, he succeeded, thanks to his daring 
and his energy in bringing into our lines his gravely hit aeroplane, and 
landed normally. Already twice cited in the Order of the Day. 

This nomination carries with it the Croix de Guerre with Palm. 

Kiffin Rockwell was promoted sergeant, and was awarded 
the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre with palm. 
His citation, signed by General Joffre, read: 

A volunteer for the duration of the war, was first wounded May 9, 
1 91 5, during a bayonet charge. Passed into the Aviation, he has there 
shown himself to be a courageous and skilful pilot. On May 18, 1916, 
he attacked and destroyed a German aeroplane. May 24, 19 16, he did 


Escadrille Lafayette 

not hesitate to deliver combat to several enemy machines, during the 
course of which he was gravely wounded in the face. 

Victor Chapman was made a sergeant, and was awarded the 
Croix de Guerre, with a brilliant citation: 

An American citizen, enlisted voluntarily for the duration of the 
war. A pilot remarkable for his audacity, throwing himself upon the 
enemy aeroplanes whatever be the number, and whatever be the alti- 
tude. May 24, 1916, attacked alone three German aeroplanes; deliv- 
ered a combat during which his clothing was traversed by several 
bullets, and he was wounded in the arm. 

Bert Hall also did good work during the early days of the 
Escadrille, and was awarded the Medaille Militaire and the 
Croix de Guerre. 

Raoul Lufbery joined the Escadrille Americaine at Luxeuil. 
His friend Marc Pourpe had been killed on December 2, 1914, 
and, taking a vow of vengeance, he had learned to fly, and had 
piloted bombing and observation machines all along the front. 
Lufbery was a daring and cool-headed pilot, and immediately 
began to gain victories in his little avion de chasse. 

Clyde Balsley was terribly wounded on June 18, and five 
days later, on June 23, the Escadrille lost its first member by 
death, Victor Chapman. Kiffin Rockwell told how he fell: 

' Well, I feel very blue to-night. Victor was killed this after- 
noon. I was the guard here to-day and so didn't go out over 
the lines. The captain, Victor, Prince, and Lufbery went out 
this afternoon. Inside the German lines they attacked five Ger- 
man machines. The captain, Prince, and Lufbery came out all 
right and came home. But Victor didn't show up. We were 
beginning to feel uneasy when a Maurice Farman pilot tele- 
phoned that he was there and saw the fight. He said that he 
saw one of the Nieuports suddenly dive straight down and then 
the machine break to pieces in air. I figure that Victor was 
probably hit by a bullet, and that also some of the cables of 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the machine were cut by bullets. When he was hit he probably 
fell forward on his "broomstick" (or whatever you call in 
English your controleur)\ that would cause the machine to 
dive, and then if it was weakened by some of the supports being 
cut would cause what happened. He fell inside the German 

'I would like to see every paper in the world pay a tribute 
to him. There is no question but that Victor had more courage 
than all the rest of us put together. We were all afraid that he 
would be killed, and I rooming with him had begged him every 
night to be more prudent. He would fight every Boche he saw, 
no matter where or at what odds, and I am sure that he had 
wounded if not killed several. I have seen him twice right on 
top of a German, shooting hell out of him, but it was always 
in their lines, and there being so much fighting here it is im- 
possible to tell always when you bring down a machine. His 
head wound was not healed [Chapman had been wounded by 
a bullet in the scalp a few days before his death], yet he in- 
sisted on flying anyway, and wouldn't take a rest. The first 
time he was ever in an aeroplane he went as a passenger clear 
to Dillingen and dropped a bomb on the station there. 

'Since the war, he never received anything in the way of 
decorations, yet for this one month here he was proposed for 
two citations: a VOrdre de V Armee, and for the Medaille Mili- 

'As I say, he and I roomed together and flew very much 
together, so I rather feel it, as I had grown to like him very 
much. I am afraid it is going to rain to-morrow, but if not, 
I am going to fly about ten hours, and will do my best to kill 
one or two Germans for him.' 

In a long letter to Victor's parents, Kiffln Rockwell said: 
'I wanted to write you at once, and tried to a number of 
times. But I found it impossible to write full justice to Victor 
or really to express my sympathy with you. Everything I would 


Escadrille Lafayette 

try to say seemed so weak. So I finally said, "I will just go 
ahead and work hard, do my best, then if I have accomplished 
a lot, or been killed in accomplishing it, they will know that I 
have not forgotten Victor, and that some of his strength of 
character still lived." There is nothing that I can say to you or 
any one that will do full credit to him. And every one here that 
knew him feels the same way. . . . Victor was one of the very few 
that had the strongest of ideals, and then had the character to 
withstand anything that tried to come into his life and kill 
them. He was just a large, healthy man, full of life and good- 
ness toward life, and could only see the fine, true points in life 
and in other people. And he was not of the kind that absorbs 
from other people, but of the kind that gives out. We all had 
felt his influence and seeing in him a man made us feel a little 
more like trying to be men ourselves. 

' . . . He died the more glorious death, and at the most glorious 
time of life to die, especially for him with his ideals. I have 
never once regretted it for him, as I know he was willing and 
satisfied to give his life that way if it was necessary, and that he 
had no fear of death, and there is nothing to fear in death.... 
You must not feel sorry, but must feel proud and happy.' 

Victor Chapman was posthumously cited in the Order of the 

A chasing pilot who was a model of audacity, of energy, and of 
spirit, and forced the admiration of his comrades in the Escadrille. 
Seriously wounded in the head June 17, he asked to not interrupt his 
service. Several days later he threw himself forward to attack several 
enemy aeroplanes, and found a glorious death in the course of the 

Victor Chapman was a great-great-grandson of John Jay, 
one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; his 
father, Mr. John Jay Chapman, the essayist and poet, has been 
called one of the finest writers of the English language in the 

J 93 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

United States. When told of his son's death, Mr. Chapman 
said, 'Very well. He died for a noble cause.' 

The struggle in the air over the Verdun sector continued 
relentlessly all summer, and the American aviators vied with 
their French comrades in heroic devotion and self-sacrifice. 
Raoul Lufbery received the Medaille Militaire and the Croix 
de Guerre with this citation: 

A model of address and of sang-froid and courage. Has distinguished 
himself by numerous long-distance bombardments and by the com- 
bats he delivers daily to the enemy aeroplanes. July 31 he did not 
hesitate to attack at close range a group of four enemy aeroplanes. He 
shot one of them down near our lines. He succeeded in destroying a 
second one on August 4, 1916. 

Kiffin Rockwell was again cited in Army Orders: 

Enlisted for the duration of the war. Entering into the chasing 
aviation, he immediately classed himself there as a pilot of the very 
first order, of an admirable daring and bravery. He never hesitates to 
attack the enemy whatever be the number of the adversaries he en- 
counters, usually obliging the enemy, by the skill and sharpness of his 
attack, to abandon the struggle. Has destroyed two enemy machines. 
Has rendered the most valuable services to the aviation de chasse of the 
Army by unsparing efforts during four months at Verdun. 

Paul Pavelka had completed his training as an airman, and 
joined the Escadrille at Verdun on August 1 1 . On one of his very 
first flights over the lines, his aeroplane caught fire, and for 
several minutes he thought he was going to be burned alive. By 
skilful piloting and rare good fortune, he succeeded in landing 
the flaming machine in a marsh near Verdun, and in spite of 
an enemy bombardment got away safely. 

Sergeant James R. McConnell, one of the original members 
of the Escadrille, was badly injured in an aeroplane smash-up. 
With four comrades, he had been patrolling the air during a hot 
battle around Fleury and Thiaumont, to prevent the German 


Escadrille Lafayette 

machines from doing observation work. Several German 
aeroplanes hung low behind their lines under the protection of 
their anti-aircraft cannon waiting for the French machines to 
leave the air, but the French and American pilots stuck to their 
post until darkness fell and the stars were out. Then they 
started to return to camp. 

On the way home McConnell's motor went wrong while he 
was high in the air. He descended immediately, trying to choose 
a safe landing. The country was new to him, and in the dark- 
ness he ran into telegraph wires. The machine smashed badly, 
and he was thrown out and shaken up. His back was sprained 
and became more painful every day, although he kept on flying. 
Finally Captain Thenault, his commander, ordered McConnell 
to see the doctor, who hastened the devoted American to the 

Victor Chapman's Peruvian comrade in the Troisieme de 
Marche, Jose Garcia Calderon, was slain over Verdun as he 
fought in his aeroplane against an overwhelming number of 
German pilots. George Preston Ames left the ranks of the 
Legion and entered the aviation school at Camp d\Avord. 

William Thaw returned to the front, and attempted to fly 
with his arm still in a sling. Lufbery on August 8 brought down 
his fourth enemy aeroplane, which fell in flames near Douau- 
mont, and other members of the Escadrille won victories. The 
Franco-British offensive in the Somme caused the German 
efforts against Verdun to diminish in intensity: the danger was 
ended there, and the Escadtille Americaine was ordered back 
to Luxeuil, to protect the great bombing raids that were to be 
carried out from the base there. 

By way of a farewell to Verdun, Kiffin Rockwell destroyed 
another German aeroplane over Vauquois on September 9. 
He wrote of this victory: 'Just a few lines. We have not left 
yet, but hope to be in Paris in a couple of days. This morning 
I attacked a Boche at three thousand metres high, killed the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

observateur the first shot. After that, followed the machine down 
to eighteen hundred metres, riddling it with bullets. At that 
height I was attacked at very close range by two other German 
machines. I succeeded in getting back home. My first machine 
fell just in the German trenches, and our artillery fired on it.' 

KifHn Rockwell was proposed for another citation, and for 
the rank of sous-lieutenant. The Escadrille spent a few days in 
Paris, en route to Luxeuil. Some of the boys formed a syndicate 
and bought a four-months-old lion cub from a Brazilian dentist 
whose clients were frightened by the animal's roars. The cub 
was named 'Whiskey,' and became the treasured mascot of the 

The American Escadrille arrived back at Luxeuil on Septem- 
ber 1 8. The weather was cold and bad, and there was no fly- 
ing. New aeroplanes were given some of the pilots, and were 
mounted with two mitrailleuses, instead of one as the old 
machines had. 

Sergeant-Pilot James Rogers McConnell told in his book, 
'Flying for France,' of how the second member of the Escadrille 
was killed: 

' Kiffin Rockwell and Lufbery were the first to get their new 
machines ready and on the 23d of September went out for the 
first flight since the Escadrille had arrived at Luxeuil. They 
became separated in the air, but each flew on alone, which was 
a dangerous thing to do in the Alsace sector. There is but little 
fighting in the trenches there, but great air activity. Due to 
the British and French squadrons at Luxeuil, and the threat 
their presence implied, the Germans had to oppose them by 
a large fleet of fighting machines. I believe there were more 
than forty Fokkers alone in the camps of Colmar and Habsheim. 
Observation machines protected by two or three fighting planes 
would venture far into our lines. It is something the Germans 
dare not do on any other part of the front. They had a special 
trick that consisted in sending a large, slow observation ma- 


Escadrille Lafayette 

chine into our lines to invite attack. When a French plane 
would dive after it, two Fokkers, that had been hovering high 
overhead, would drop on the tail of the Frenchman and he 
stood but small chance if caught in the trap, 
i 'Just before Kiffin Rockwell reached the lines, he spied a 
German machine under him, flying at eleven thousand feet. 
I can imagine the satisfaction he felt in at last catching an 
enemy plane in our lines. Rockwell had fought more combats 
than the rest of us put together, and had shot down many 
German planes that had fallen in their lines, but this was the 
first time he had had an opportunity of bringing down a Boche 
in our territory. 

'A captain, the commandant of an Alsatian village, watched 
the aerial battle through his field glasses. He said that Rock- 
well approached so close to the enemy that he thought there 
would be a collision. The German craft, which carried two 
machine guns, had opened a rapid fire when Rockwell started 
his dive. He plunged through the stream of lead, and only 
when very close to his enemy did he begin shooting. For a 
second it looked as though the German was falling, so the 
captain said, but then he saw the French machine turn rapidly 
nose down, the wings of one side broke off" and fluttered in the 
wake of the airplane, which hurtled earthward in a rapid drop. 
It crashed into the ground in a small field — a field of flowers — ■ 
a few hundred yards back of the trenches. It was not more than 
two and a half miles from the spot where Rockwell, in the 
month of May, brought down his first enemy machine. The 
Germans immediately opened up on the wreck with artillery 
fire. In spite of the bursting shrapnel, gunners from a near-by 
battery rushed out and recovered poor Rockwell's broken 
body. There was a hideous wound in his chest where an explo- 
sive bullet had torn through. A surgeon who examined the 
body testified that if it had been an ordinary bullet Rockwell 
would have had an even chance of landing with only a bad 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

wound. As it was, he was killed the instant the unlawful missile 

'Lufbery engaged a German craft, but before he could get to 
close range two Fokkers swooped down from behind and rilled 
his aeroplane full of holes. Exhausting his ammunition he 
landed at Fontaine, an aviation field near the lines. There he 
learned of Rockwell's death and was told that two other French 
machines had been brought down within the hour. He ordered 
his gasoline tank filled, procured a full band of cartridges and 
soared up into the air to avenge his comrade. He sped up and 
down the lines, and made a wide detour to Habsheim where the 
Germans have an aviation field, but all to no avail. Not a 
Boche was in the air. 

'The news of Rockwell's death was telephoned to the Esca- 
drille. The captain, lieutenant, and a couple of men jumped 
in a staff car and hastened to where he had fallen. On their 
return the American pilots were convened in a room of the 
hotel, and the news was broken to them. With tears in his 
eyes, the captain said: "The best and bravest of us all is no 

'No greater blow could have befallen the Escadrille. Kiffin 
was its soul. He was loved and looked up to not only by every 
man in our flying corps, but by every one who knew him. 
Kiffin was imbued with the spirit of the cause for which he 
fought and gave his heart and soul to the performance of his 
duty. He said: "I pay my part for Lafayette and Rocham- 
beau," and he gave the fullest measure. The old flame of 
chivalry burned brightly in this boy's fine and sensitive being. 
With his death France lost one of her most valuable pilots. 
When he was over the lines the Germans did not pass — and 
he was over them most of the time. He brought down four 
enemy planes that were credited to him officially, and Lieu- 
tenant de Laage, who was his fighting partner, says he is con- 
vinced that Rockwell accounted for many others which fell too 


Escadrille Lafayette 

far within the German lines to be observed. Rockwell had been 
given the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre, on the 
ribbon of which he wore four palms, representing the four 
magnificent citations he had received in the Order of the Army. 
As a further reward for his excellent work he had been proposed 
for promotion from the grade of sergeant to that of second 
lieutenant. Unfortunately the official order did not arrive until 
a few days following his death. 

'The night before Rockwell was killed he had stated that if 
he were brought down he would like to be buried where he fell. 
It was impossible, however, to place him in a grave so near the 
trenches. His body was draped in a French flag and brought 
back to Luxeuil. He was given a funeral worthy of a general. 
His brother, Paul, who had fought in the Legion with him, and 
who had been rendered unfit for service by a wound, was 
granted permission to attend the obsequies. Pilots from all 
near-by camps flew over to render homage to Rockwell's re- 
mains. Every Frenchman in the aviation at Luxeuil marched 
behind the bier. The British pilots, followed by a detachment 
of five hundred of their men, and a battalion of French troops 
brought up the rear. As the slow-moving procession of blue- 
and khaki-clad men passed from the church to the graveyard, 
aeroplanes circled at a feeble height overhead and showered 
down myriads of flowers.' 

Mr. John Chapman cabled Paul Rockwell: 'Victor's soul is 
but a little way above Kiffin's head, and waits for his to keep 
him company.' 

General JofTre signed a posthumous citation of the fallen 

Kiffin Yates Rockwell, an American pilot who ceaselessly won the 
admiration of his chiefs and his comrades by his sang-froid, his courage 
and his daring. Fatally wounded in the course of an aerial attack, 
September 23, 1916. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The Escadrille protected a monster bombing raid across the 
Rhine on October 12, and took part in an aerial battle in which 
hundreds of Allied and German planes were engaged. Lufoery 
destroyed his fifth enemy aeroplane, and won the honor of 
having his name cited in the Official Communique oi the French 
Army. He was promoted adjudant, and decorated with the 
Legion of Honor. His citation read: 

Enlisted under the French flag for the duration of the war. Has 
given proof as apilote de chasseof remarkable daring, and has brought 
down up to December 27, 1916, six enemy aeroplanes. 

The Escadrille moved to the Somme for the winter, and was 
joined at its frozen, wind-swept camp by Soubiran, Genet, and 
Dugan, who had obtained their flying brevets. Zmn and Rocle 
joined other escadrilles at the front; they had been found inapt 
at the aviation schools as pilots, and had trained as machine- 
gunners and aerial observers. In addition, Zinn had specialized 
in aerial photography. 

Dennis Dowd had shown great promise as an airman at the 
Buc training school. He got through the ground work there 
rapidly, and started making trial flights for his brevet. Early in 
August he started on an altitude test, and had reached a 
height of some seventeen hundred metres, when his machine 
began falling. 

Some of Dowd's comrades saw the aeroplane fall behind a 
clump of trees, and dashed forward, with the fear that they 
would find a wrecked aeroplane and a dead or injured pilot. 
Before they reached the trees, they saw Dowd's machine rise 
just over the topmost branches, and make a safe landing on the 
aviation field. The pilot had regained control of his aeroplane 
just as it actually grazed the tips of oats in a cultivated field, 
and had succeeded in saving himself. 

A few days later, on August 12, 191 6, Dowd was killed when 
his aeroplane fell from a great height. What went wrong in the 


Escadrille Lafayette 

air was never determined, but it was supposed that the Ameri- 
can fainted when he reached a high altitude. 

There is a widespread belief, fostered by fiction writers, that 
the Foreign Legion is filled with men who have been disap- 
pointed in love. In fact, there are probably very few such men 
on the roster of the corps, although Dennis Dowd might be 
considered as having enlisted because of an unfortunate love 

When Dowd first came to the Legion in August, 1914, he 
was an exceptionally cynical, sombre, and bitter youth. As 
the weeks went by, he became more and more cheerful and 
gay, and his normal self. At the time of his death he was one 
of the happiest, most enthusiastic American volunteers in 

The secret of Dowd's sadness in 1914 and of his gradual 
change to brightness was learned by Paul Rockwell years after 
the war. During the summer of 1925, Rockwell met at a dinner- 
party in Washington the young wife of an American naval 
officer. She asked many questions about Dowd, and finally 
related that she had known him when he was a student at 
Georgetown University, and had become engaged to him his 
last year there. 

Dowd kept pressing her to marry him, but she was thinking 
more about a 'good time' than matrimony, and kept postponing 
the wedding. Finally, during the summer of 1914, Dowd came 
to the seaside resort where his fiancee was staying, and insisted 
that the engagement be announced and the marriage take place 
in the fall. He argued that he had finished his studies, was 
practicing law, and besides had enough independent income to 
make their future assured. 

The girl refused to give a definite answer. 

'All right,' said Dowd. 'I am returning to New York. If 
I do not hear from you within a week that our wedding will 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

take place next October, I will sail for France, enlist in the 
Foreign Legion, and probably be killed in the war.' 

The fiancee wrote Dowd a very vague letter. A few days 
later, she received an answer from Dowd, mailed off Sandy 
Hook, which said that he was en route for France and the 
Legion. She tried to get in touch with Dowd in Paris, and 
offered to marry him if he would return to America, but he 
replied that he was already in the Army. 

Other letters told her that he had at last found his path in 
life, and that he was happy in the Legion at the front. He 
asked her to think of him only as a friend. She then became 
engaged to the naval officer she later married. 

When Dowd was wounded and in hospital, a young French 
girl living near Paris got his address, and started a correspond- 
ence with him. She adopted him as her filleul (war godson) and 
sent him parcels of comforts. Her parents invited Dowd to 
spend his convalescence leave at their home. Within forty- 
eight hours after he arrived there, Dowd was engaged to the 
girl. They planned to marry as soon as the war ended. 

When Dowd was killed, a funeral service for him was held 
at the American church in Paris. His French fiancee was there, 
dressed in deepest mourning. After the ceremony, she had 
herself photographed draped gracefully over Dowd's flag- 
covered coffin, and swore eternal fidelity to his memory. 

Some months later she married an artillery captain in the 

Chapter XII 


The One Hundred and Seventieth Line Regiment, with 
its ranks refilled and its men rested from the fighting 
around Verdun, marched up to the Somme battlefield 
early in August, 19 16. The French and British forces were con- 
tinuing their assaults against the German positions with as 
great vigor as in July, and the enemy divisions were defending 
themselves tooth and nail. The conquered terrain was difficult 
to organize against the German counter-attacks: the prelimi- 
nary bombardment had done its work all too well, and the old 
German trenches and shelters were battered almost beyond 

Of the score of men who had transferred from the Legion in 
October, 191 5, only six remained in the ranks of the One 
Hundred and Seventieth: Lieutenant Mulhauser; Sergeant 
Jacob; Corporals Capdevielle and Dupont; David King and 
Elov Nilson. The latter wrote of the Somme battle: 

'At Etinehem, a little village twelve kilometres back from 
the old line, we saw for the first time the really marvellous 
preparations for the big battle of Picardy, and got new ideas 
of what modern warfare is. 

'Through the village ran a narrow-gauge railway, especially 
built for transporting shells. Every ten minutes a little steam 
engine puffed by, dragging half a dozen or more cars loaded 
with shells of every calibre, from the little "French Army's 
Pride" — the famous seventy-fives — up to the monsters for 
the two hundred and eighties, three hundred and twenties, and 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

even larger guns. We heard continually a bombardment that 
caused the earth to tremble like an earthquake, even there, 
twelve or fifteen kilometres from the firing line. 

'Behind each hospital was its own graveyard. In these 
cemeteries German prisoners were occupied at grave-digging. 
I spoke with these men. Most of them were taken at Herbe- 
court and Belloy-en-Santerre, at the beginning of the offensive. 
Speaking of the attack, they said it was terrible, especially the 
bombardment preceding the assault. One man said that of his 
battalion one thousand strong, only one officer and eighty-two 
men escaped alive. 

'"We all gave it up when we saw what troops were in front 
of us," another man told me. 

'To my question as to what regiment had attacked, he 
answered, "The Foreign Legion." 

'On August ii came the order to leave Etinehem, and off* 
we went toward the front lines. The nearer the front we got, 
the more signs of actual fighting we saw. Little was left of the 
villages through which we passed. We saw many British 
troops, but no civilians after we left Bray, a village five kilo- 
metres behind the old first line. The only building there that 
was not shell-scarred was the church. In all the other bom- 
barded villages I have seen, the church has always been the 
worst smashed-up of all the buildings. 

'At Suzanne, outside which town the old line, before the 
offensive started, passed, we made our grande halte, had hot 
soupe, and received extra cartridges which made a total of two 
hundred per man. Each soldier also received four hand grenades. 

'We started off at midnight toward the firing line. At dawn 
we were up and en route for the first-line trenches, pick and 
shovel in hand. Our task was to dig communication trenches 
between the first- and second-line trenches, a work much 
needed, as the existing boyaux were at places only a foot and a 
half deep. 


The Swallows in the Somme and Alsace 

'We had no more than started to dig than the Boches spotted 
us, and in ten minutes' time shells from their seventy-sevens 
and one hundred and fives began to fall all about where we were 
working. Flat on our stomachs we threw ourselves. Now and 
then I glanced behind me to see how David King was faring, 
and always I found him too busy with his camera to pay any 
attention to the bombardment. Every time a shell fell any- 
where near us, "snap" went the shutter of that camera. 

'One large shell landed, I am sure, not more than two metres 
to the side of us. I thought surely King was done for: then I 
heard him shout, "Don't move! Don't move! That's a good 
one!" And he snapped me there in the new-made shell-hole! 

'To work under such conditions was impossible, and we were 
ordered back to our first boyaux. We tried to sleep and get fit 
for the afternoon's attack. At three o'clock came the order to 
equip ourselves for the charge. We were told to leave our 
packs behind, to be in as light a condition as possible for 
marching. Each man took his tent cover and swung it over his 
shoulders, and with our two hundred cartridges, haversacks 
filled with two days' emergency food, and a supply of hand 
grenades, we had all we cared to carry. Then we started off for 
the first line, all in a happy mood. 

'Every hundred metres of our advance we threw ourselves 
flat down for a little rest. The din of the battle was terrific, a 
mad blend of shouting, exploding shells, rifle firing and what 
not from both French and German throats and guns. 

'Then came the turn for us to go out from our shelters and 
join in the advance. Up we sprang and followed the first wave 
of attackers. The bombardment was then at its highest pitch, 
and was the most horrible I had yet heard or seen — worse 
than either Champagne or Verdun. 

'As we went forward with a rush many lads of my section 
fell out, killed or wounded. On we went, over the shell- 
butchered fields, constantly walking over dead bodies or meet- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ing wounded men rushing back to the dressing-post. In groups 
of fifty and a hundred, prisoners trotted past us, guarded by 
only one or two French soldiers. 

'Now the attack in itself ended. We had gone as far as we 
had been ordered to go, and had reached and taken the foe's 
second line. My regiment had advanced about a mile and 
taken more than six hundred prisoners, four machine guns and 
several trench mortars. Our losses had been slight, but the 
worst part of the fight was only beginning. 

'We, as reserves, started to dig ourselves in, there in the 
open field, about four hundred metres behind the newly occu- 
pied German position. Shells were falling at a rapid rate, and 
we hustled at our work, as each man must make his own shell- 
proof dugout. Our picks and shovels, which we had never once 
abandoned, were small, and work was necessarily slow. King 
and I luckily found a deep shell-hole, and we hastily filled our 
sandbags and erected a sort of parapet. Then we crept over to 
the smashed-in German dugouts and found several more sand- 
bags and an axe. With the axe we chopped up a fallen telephone 
pole into lengths just right to make a roof for our new home, 
and, putting on a yard deep covering of earth, we had one of 
the best shelters in our company. 

'The next night, we had to go up to the front line and work, 
under a heavy bombardment. Finally the shelling became too 
intense and we had to run to shelter. I tried to go into a dugout, 
but it was already full of men. I lay down in the doorway and 
another soldier ran up and fell headlong on top of me. The 
position was uncomfortable, but I lay there until things quieted 
down a bit. 

'Then I told the man on my back to get up, but he did not 
stir. I got angry and began shouting at him. Still he did not 
move. Then I pushed him aside and he fell limp on the ground. 
I examined him and found he was dead. He had a shrapnel 
bullet right through the forehead and his back was almost torn 


The Swallows in the Somme and Alsace 

open by a shell-splinter. If he had not been lying on me, I 
should have been hit by that very piece of shell. Taking my 
pick and shovel I dug him a grave.' 

The One Hundred and Seventieth moved back just behind the 
lines for a short rest. The regiment was awarded the fourragere 
and cited for the second time in Army Orders: 

August 12, 191 6, under the orders of Colonel Lavigne-Delville, 
took, in a quarter of an hour, under an intense artillery and mitrail- 
leuse fire, a powerfully organized line of trenches, situated at nine 
hundred metres from its departure base and preceded by numerous 
redoubts whose conquest exacted furious hand-to-hand fighting; 
captured there two hundred and fifty prisoners and four machine guns. 
Organized and conserved the conquered terrain, despite the offensive 
returns and violent bombardments of the enemy. 

New men arrived from the regimental depot, and the One 
Hundred and Seventieth went back up to the battle-front. It 
again acted first as reserve, and occupied a large ruined village, 
where not a wall two feet high was left standing. There were 
no trenches and no dugouts: the men improvised shelters in a 
veritable chaos of bricks, woodwork, and upturned soil, where 
unburied bodies of French and German soldiers lay scattered 
everywhere. Nilson found a deep shell-hole, and, gathering a 
score of abandoned rifles, made a roof, which he strengthened 
with earth-filled sandbags and old haversacks. On top of his 
'happy home,' as he called it, he put part of the old tower of 
the village church. 

On September 12 Nilson wrote: 'We are in for big game to- 
night. We attack before sundown, but I am cool as a cucumber. 
I am glad of the coming excitement, for war is a great sport. 
Will write you to-morrow if I am lucky.' 

The One Hundred and Seventieth charged the German posi- 
tions along the route from Bethune to Bouchavesnes. Nilson 
fell wounded in a ravine near the first-line trenches; he bandaged 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

his hurt, and started to crawl to the rear. He had to cross an 
exposed hillock which was enfiladed by German machine 
guns, and there he was riddled by bullets. After the attack, 
Jacob and Capdevielle searched for Nilson's body in and 
around the ravine where Nilson had last been seen, but the 
enemy bombardment had wiped out all trace of the men who 
fell there. 

David King had been injured during the fighting, and was 
sent to the hospital. After the doctors there finished with him, 
he was transferred to the Artillery. 

Ferdinand Capdevielle was promoted sergeant for continuous 
sang-froid and bravery throughout the fighting, and Mulhauser 
was cited in Army Orders as having taken part with his regi- 
ment in the operations in the Somme, 'where he accomplished 
in the best manner missions confided to him.' 

The One Hundred and Seventieth consolidated the positions 
which it had conquered, and settled down to another winter in 
the trenches. 


When John Bowe and Jack Cordonnier came out of the 
hospital after their wounds were cured (see Chapter IX), they 
were sent to the One Hundred and Sixty-Third Infantry Regi- 
ment, a unit composed almost entirely of men from Southern 
France. Most had been enfeebled from bad wounds, or were 
not quite young enough to be in an attack regiment, but were 
steady and dependable to hold trenches. 

The One Hundred and Sixty-Third was holding a position 
along the crests of the Vosges Mountains in Alsace when the 
Americans joined it. John Bowe wrote of the life there: 

'I told you we were in a tranquil sector. Just to show you 
how peaceful it is, I can point out that, on my return here from 
my eight days' leave of absence, I found that four of my best 


The Swallows in the Somme and Alsace 

friends had been killed while I was away. We are holding a 
mountain-top along the frontier. The Germans hold the peaks 
opposite, which they have planted with heavy artillery and 
which they practise on us. When the French first drove back 
the Germans, our lines stopped within a bombing distance of 
about thirty metres. We have the upper line; they the lower. 
We can throw bombs down on them, but it is hard for them to 
throw any on us. 

'Now they have planted their lines with mortars that throw 
crapouillots and bombs the size of a stovepipe. They have 
another bomb, for all the world like a two-gallon demijohn. 
We can see them come hurtling through the air and we dodge 
them. They are only good for short ranges. They have this 
short-range combination and long-range artillery from the 
mountains going at the same time. They shot us up for four 
days and nights; they turned our mountain-top upside down. 
One couldn't see where the trenches had been; hills appeared 
where holes were. The surface of the ground to-day looks like 
an angry, choppy sea. We were laying for them, however, 
and when their infantry started out we gave them a dose that 
made them quit for two whole days, during which things were 
quiet. Then our artillery started, and recorded hits throughout 
the day. 

'Late in the afternoon we broke the backbone of the enemy's 
blockhouse. A section of our men advanced and gave the 
Germans inside the blockhouse a chance to surrender. Eleven 
took advantage of the opportunity and our grenades and 
revolvers squared up the rest. Prisoners said there were some 
forty-five men in the blockhouse at the start. Only two of our 
men were wounded. 

'This affair made the Germans so angry that they threw at 
us ammunition which they had been trying to save. They 
shelled us for a whole day and then made a counter-attack with 
grenades. I was one of the outpost within twenty metres of 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

their line. After a lively skirmish we made them get back under 

'Later a comrade and I were detailed to take a sack of hand 
grenades and wait for the Germans to attack again. This looks 
like a small affair, but two determined men in a commanding 
position, with sufficient bombs, may prove a dangerous ob- 
stacle. There were two other grenadiers some distance on our 

The position the One Hundred and Sixty-Third was holding 
was on the famous Hartmannsweillerkopf, in the struggle for 
which peak, valuable as an observatory from which the wide 
plain of Alsace is seen, some fifty thousand French and German 
soldiers were killed. Kiffin Rockwell's aeroplane fell just at the 
foot of the mountain, and Bowe and Cordonnier witnessed 
the last fight of their old comrade of the Legion. 

John Bowe was decorated in Alsace with the Croix de Guerre, 
with a magnificent citation: 

An American citizen, voluntarily active in the Army, he is the per- 
sonification of the most absolute devotion. At the front since May 29, 
191 5, he has always volunteered for dangerous missions and the most 
perilous posts. 

Bowe also received the Serbian War Cross; he was recom- 
mended for the decoration by Serbians with whom he had 
served in the Legion, and who had become officers in the 
Serbian Army. 

Weakened by rheumatism, Bowe was transferred early in 
1 9 17 to the Ninety-Second Territorial Regiment, where he 
worked behind the lines with elderly reservists aged from 
forty to fifty-five years. He helped build roads, dig trenches, 
unloaded coal and other supplies at the railway stations behind 
the lines, and performed other unromantic duties. 

'One night at Bussang, after unloading coal in a snowstorm, 
my wet cotton gloves were as stiff with frost as were my knees 


The Swallows in the Somme and Alsace 

with rheumatism,' related Bowe. 'Quite fed up, I went to the 
doctor, determined to thrash the matter out with him. "Yes," 
he responded, "I know you are not in condition, but we are 
hard pressed now. We must use every ounce of energy we 
have." I quit knocking, stuck it out a few days longer, then 
went to pieces.' 

Bowe was sent to the hospital, where he lay in bed for 
many months, while Cordonnier fought on, the lone American 
in the One Hundred and Sixty-Third, 


Algernon Charles Sartoris, a grandson of General Ulysses 
S. Grant, enlisted in the Foreign Legion in December, 191 6. 
His mother was Nellie Grant, who married Captain Algernon 
Sartoris, and he had served on the staff" of General Fitzhugh 
Lee as a captain in the United States Army, during the Spanish- 
American War. Later he entered the diplomatic service, and 
was at one time Charge d'Affaires of the Legation at Guate- 
mala. Some time after he volunteered Sartoris wrote: 

'From the moment the war broke out, it had been my inten- 
tion to serve the Allied cause, and in the very early days of the 
struggle I passed my examination at the London War Office 
for an interpretership, but the French Government undertook 
all these appointments before my turn was reached, so my 
efforts in that direction failed. Then all my business affairs 
went wrong and I was compelled to cross and recross the 
ocean and make many other voyages. Finally I decided to wait, 
thinking and believing that it could only be a question of time 
before the United States would intervene. The Lusitania 
horror, followed by many other examples of Hun "Kultur," 
led me to the conclusion that it would be a long time, if ever, 
before President Wilson would intervene. The Sussex affair 
clinched it, so far as I was concerned, and finally, despairing of 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

my own country doing her duty, like many other Americans 
I decided to enlist in the French Army and "do my bit." 

'The only door open was the famous Foreign Legion. I felt 
a bit nervous in engaging myself as a common soldier in a 
corps, which I knew contained a very mixed lot of men, but it 
was the only way and I took the plunge. I was sent to Lyon to 
the depot, a most depressing spot, but remained only a few days 
and then went on to train at the camp at La Valbonne. 

'I shall never forget my first impression there. To begin 
with, at one end of the long barrack-room in which I was 
lodged, was a corporal explaining and demonstrating the use 
of the bayonet. A regular babel of languages, shouted at 
the top of their respective voices, greeted me as I entered. The 
predominant languages used were German and Spanish, the 
latter of which I understand a little. At the other end of the 
wooden shed, or barrack, a lively debate was going on between 
a French Colonial Negro and an Uruguayan gentleman; this 
argument developed rapidly, and sides were taken by the 
majority present, the men of Spanish tongue rallying around 
the Uruguayan; the German-Swiss, I know not for what reason, 
seemed to favor the nigger. Then a blow followed, and the 
Spaniards to a man rushed for their guns and bayonets. 

'Personally, together with another American, Gaston Mayer 
by name, I managed to get out of a door and wait in the com- 
pany street until order was restored by the firm and gallant 
attitude of the corporal, whom I had noticed on entering. He 
was, I was informed later, of Alsatian extraction. It was a near 
call and might have been a nasty business. I began to wonder 
if I had not taken more on my shoulders than I could carry, but 
little Mayer reassured me, said I would gradually get used to 
it and comforted me in general. Among the other men, too, I 
found a certain rough kindliness. 

' I was destined to remain at La Valbonne a very considerable 
time. As to the training and methods prevailing there I will 


The Swallows in the Somme and Alsace 

not speak in detail. I will say that the officers and non-com- 
missioned officers change too frequently, so that, as each one 
has his own ideas as to the proper way to do things, we men, 
having learnt at the hands of one man how to use our bayonets, 
for example, would have to unlearn all we had learnt, and do 
the same thing in a way that better pleased a new arrival, and 
this ad libitum. It was exercise, however. I would like to say 
en passant that, so far as I am able to judge, the officers, as a 
whole, know their business and endeavor to be fair.' 

Sartoris was already past middle age. He had no gift for the 
soldier's life, but he had inherited from his grandfather that 
former President's chief failing, which caused him to make the 
acquaintance of La Valbonne jail more than once. Sartoris 
struggled with all his might to become a good soldier, however, 
and was finally declared fit for service in the trenches. 

Other late 191 6 American volunteers were Gaston R. Marcel 
, Mayer, who was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but whose 
family lived in New York, who enlisted at Bordeaux on August 
31; William Paringfield, a nineteen-year-old lad from Butte, 
Montana, who enlisted at Bayonne on December 15, and 
Schuyler Deming, of Columbus, Ohio, who enlisted at Marseille 
on November 18. 

Deming deserted from La Valbonne after several months 
there, but was caught and court-martialled. He explained to 
the court that he had enlisted in the Legion in order to get 
quickly into action against the Germans, and had deserted 
because he found the time of the training camp too long. He 
was pardoned and sent to the front with the first reinforce- 
ments to go up after his trial. 

Milton Wright, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, came to La 
Valbonne from Bordeaux, where he had enlisted. Wright had 
arrived at that port as a sailor on a freight vessel, and went 
ashore without any identification papers, to take a look at the 
city. He was picked up by the police, and as he spoke no French 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and could not explain who he was, he was locked up until an 
interpreter could be found. Then Wright explained that he was 
a sailor from a certain ship, and declared that his captain would 
vouch for him. He was taken under guard to the boat; the 
captain owed him several months' wages, and swore he had 
never laid eyes on Wright before. 

The American was marched back to prison and accused of 
being a spy. He protested his innocence, and proclaimed his 
willingness to fight for France against Germany. He was taken 
to the recruitment bureau and there signed an enlistment of 
five years in the Foreign Legion. 

Wright had no liking for the military life, hov/ever, and at 
La Valbonne became day by day more melancholic. He could 
not learn to drill, and finally was discharged from the Legion, 
and given a railroad ticket to Boulogne. 

Chapter XIII 


The Legion remained in the trenches guarding the park 
and the ruins of the once magnificent chateau of 
Plessier-du-Roye, from the end of July until early 
October, 191 6. There was very little activity, except the usual 
daily bombardment, patrol combats, and an occasional coup de 
main (trench raid). The coup de main was a newly developed 
form of warfare, used all along the front, but mostly in so-called 
quiet sectors, by both the Germans and the Allies, to hinder the 
opponent and gain information about his activities. It was 
always operated very suddenly: a short but intense bombard- 
ment would be directed against a line of enemy trenches or a 
troublesome blockhouse, and while the defenders of the shelled 
position were still dazed, a picked band of men would dash 
over, kill or capture all the defenders, blow up any works that 
might have escaped the shells, and return home with the 
prisoners. A heavy barrage of shrapnel always prevented aid 
from reaching the attacked position before it was too late, and 
the coups de main were often executed with few casualties 
among the assailants. Such was not the case, however, when 
machine-gun nests escaped the destructive bombardment. 

Billy Thorin was badly shaken up and gassed by a shell 
explosion in August, and taken away to the hospital. There it 
was discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis: the long 
stay in the damp dungeon at Lyon, coming before he was 
fully recovered from his Champagne battle wounds, had been 
too much for him. Billy was transferred to a sanatorium for 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

soldiers with lung trouble, and there began a gallant struggle 
for life. 

Sergeant Bouligny frequently went out on night patrol, 
and investigated the enemy's works around ruined Lassigny 
and in the woods at the foot of the Plemont; twice he brought 
back prisoners he had captured single-handed. Ivan Nock, 
Arthur Barry, and Jack Moyet won the notice of their chiefs, 
as they always volunteered for the coups de main. 

The month of October was spent around Crevecceur. New 
men arrived from La Valbonne, and the autumn days were 
spent drilling, and practicing grenade-throwing and the manip- 
ulation of the rifle-machine guns, more and more of which were 

On November 5 the Legion went into the trenches in the 
Somme, in the very sector where it had attacked in July, and 
took over the line Dompierre—Becquincourt Mill-Assevillers- 
Belloy-en-Santerre. Some of the boys looked for the grave in 
which had been laid the remains of Alan Seeger and their other 
comrades, but so greatly had the enemy bombardment trans- 
formed the landscape that not even the hill on which it had been 
dug could be found. 

The Legionnaires made the acquaintance of the terrible mud 
of the Somme. Their entire sector became a muddy swamp, 
through which it took two hours to march one kilometre. The 
Ravin de la Mort ('Death Ravine') became celebrated because 
of the number of men who were mired in it; if help was not 
quickly forthcoming to pull them out, they would sink to 
their death. 

In this icy quagmire the Legionnaires lived and worked, 
under an incessant bombardment. They dug trenches and 
boyaux, and created underground shelters of a sort; they lugged 
up from the rear fifty kilogram bombs for the trench mortars, 
and created depots of supplies for the projected spring offensive. 
It required an unusual supply of courage and goodwill and cheer- 


Champagne and Aisne, igiy 

fulness to endure such an existence, and the main consolation 
of the Legionnaires was the knowledge that the life of the enemy 
across the way was just as wretched. 

The Germans posted up in front of the Legion's trenches 
notices written in French, urging the Legionnaires to disband 
and go home. The notice ended: 

. 'Germany has no corps of foreign volunteers, and France 
should not have one.' 

The Legion did not disband, and a few days later another 
notice was posted up: 

'Men of the Foreign Legion: Hereafter when we capture one 
of you we will hang you instead of shoot you. You are not 
worth a bullet.' 

The Legion laughed. Some five score nationalities were 
represented in its ranks, and among the men were still a few 
veteran Austrian and German Legionnaires, covered with 
medals from African and Tonkin campaigns. There were 
some sixty Hungarian volunteers, every one of them wounded 
at least once fighting the Turks at Gallipoli. There were half 
a hundred Bulgarians, who were facing the Germans with 
every evidence of hatred of their national ally, and hundreds of 
Swiss and Spaniards of tried and true courage. There were 
several Portuguese Royalists, men who had once espoused the 
cause of their deposed king so ardently that they could not or 
would not enter the republican army. There were numerous 
South Americans, including several officers. 

ChatkofT was back at the front with the Legion. He had 
finished his training as an aviator, but feared he would not be 
sent to the front until spring, and had asked to spend the 
winter in the trenches with his old corps. ' For the good of his 
soul,' he said. 

Arthur Barry wrote of him: 'The Germans started a gas 
attack, and my company was ordered to stand ready for a 
counter-attack. They started across after us, but soon broke 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

under our fire and retreated. No one was badly hurt on our 
side, but the Boches lost plenty of killed and wounded. During 
the row Chatkoff was struck by a small piece of shrapnel, but 
he did not return to the hospital. We are now in the rear 
resting. We are happy to be here, for we were up to our knees 
in mud in the front-line trenches and wet to the skin con- 

Edgar Bouligny received his fourth wound of the war on 
December 15, and Chatkoff related it: 'Bouligny was wounded 
in the leg by the explosion of a hand grenade thrown into his 
trench during a small German raid. He insisted on remaining 
in the trenches after being hit. On the day following the inci- 
dent he told a comrade that he was so tired he could hardly 
stand. On examining his leg it was found that a bad wound had 
been inflicted and that infection had already set in, so that it 
was feared the leg would have to be amputated.' 

Because of the exposed nature of the terrain and the intense 
enemy bombardment, Bouligny could not be sent to the rear 
all that day. When nightfall came, more than twenty-four 
hours after he had been wounded, the American was carried on 
the back of a comrade to a field dressing-station. Energetic 
measures were taken to save his leg, and he was then sent to the 
American Hospital near Paris. 

Bouligny 's captain wrote him as follows: 'The same night 
you were taken from the trenches, I cited you in Army Orders. 
At last you will have the Croix de Guerre you so long have 
merited. I hope you will soon recover and return, for I like to 
have with me such under-officers as you.' 

Bouligny's citation read: 

An excellent non-commissioned officer, energetic and devoted. 
Wounded in the trench by a fragment of grenade in the left leg, he con- 
tinued to assume his service throughout the night. He allowed him- 
self to be bandaged the following morning only, and was later evacu- 
ated. Has already been wounded. 


Champagne and Aisne> 191 J 

' Bouligny often before had been promised citations and 
decorations by his officers, but by some ill fortune they had 
always been killed or wounded before sending Bouligny's 
propositions to headquarters. 

Robert Whidby was caught wandering behind the lines by 
gendarmes and taken back to Legion headquarters, where he 
was charged with attempting to desert and court-martialled. 
When called upon to explain his action, Whidby produced a 
certificate that he had been discharged from the United States 
Army as feeble-minded. The court-martial laughed, and Whidby 
was dismissed from the Legion. 

The Legionnaires spent their third Christmas in the trenches, 
and on December 26 started on a march back to the rear, reach- 
ing Crevecoeur on New Year's Day of 1917. Such was their 
fatigue, after the frightful cantonments of the Somme and the 
mud-hole trenches of Belloy, that the barns and lofts in which 
they were quartered seemed almost a paradise, in spite of the 
cold and the manoeuvres in the snow and fog. 

Frederick Zinn and Paul Rockwell visited their old comrades 
at Crevecoeur toward the end of January. They found an 
entire corps of the Armee d'Afrique, comprising several regi- 
ments, cantoned in and around Crevecoeur. The first Legion- 
naire they met, a little Swiss-German lad who had volunteered 
in 1914, told them where the Americans were quartered. Most 
of them were found grouped around a stove while an old peasant 
woman prepared for them boiling hot cafe au lait. Others were 
lined up at the regimental canteen, where a fresh supply of 
Algerian cigarettes was being sold to the Legionnaires at two 
cents the package of twenty. 

The American Legionnaires had become much more clannish 
than they were in the early months of the war. Months of 
hardships and common danger had drawn the men close to- 
gether, and what one had he shared with his comrades. The 
entire Legion — veterans and volunteers for the duration of 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the war — was imbued with a wonderful esprit de corps, and 
there were no more clashes between national groups or veterans 
and neophytes. The awkward volunteers of 191 4 had become 
good, campaign-hardened soldiers, well versed in the art of 
modern warfare, and in such company the newcomer quickly 
became proficient as a fighter. 

Of some threescore and ten American volunteers of 1914 there 
still remained in the fighting ranks of the Legion Guy Agostini, 
Jack Casey, Lincoln ChatkofF, Christopher Charles, Louis 
Haeffle, Theodore Haas, Nick Karayinis, Jack Noe, Robert 
Percy, Charles Trinkard, and Frank Whitmore. Later volun- 
teers were Arthur Barry, Henry Claude, Jack Moyet, Ivan 
Nock, and James Paul. In addition, there were a few men in the 
hospitals and in training at La Valbonne. 

Three of the volunteers of 1914, Chatkoff, Noe, and Percy, 
had never been wounded, although ChatkofF and Percy had 
both spent months sick in the hospital. Noe had never missed 
a roll-call, except when away on leave of absence, and held the 
record among his American comrades for time spent at the 

Whitmore and Haeffle had but lately rejoined their regi- 
ment after months in the hospital from their Belloy-en-Santerre 
wounds. Haeffle was a musician in the Legion's band; Haas a 
dispatch-bearer; Trinkard signalman for his company; and 
Casey regimental topographer. Casey was also in great de- 
mand throughout the Legion as an artist; in a few minutes' 
sitting he could draw a most excellent likeness of his subject, 
and some of his sketches of trench and battle scenes had been 
highly praised and published far and wide. 

Zinn and Rockwell asked the other Americans to join them 
for dinner, and while Rockwell went to arrange for the meal 
Zinn started out to call on some friends he had made when his 
escadrille had been stationed at Crevecceur. Rockwell waited 
at the restaurant, and as Zinn was an hour overdue, began 



Left to right: James Paul, Paul Rockwell, Jack Casey, Jack Moyet, Arthur Barry 


Left to right: Arthur Barry, Jack Noe, Henry Claude, Jack Moyet {with flag) 
Frederick IV. Zinn, James Paul 

Champagne and Aisne, 1917 

to think there must be some mistake as to the place of rendez- 

Suddenly the door of the restaurant opened, and the band 
of American Legionnaires entered, supporting Zinn, who was in 
a half-dazed condition. Near the aviation park he had heard a 
woman screaming for help. He rushed into the house from 
whence came the cries, and found two men attempting to 
violate a woman. Zinn at once interfered, and during the fight 
one of the men hit him over the back of the head with a full 
bottle of wine. 

The assailants then fled; Zinn staggered into the street and 
■cried to pursue them, but fell unconscious in the road. Then 
his friends came by, and while some of them revived Zinn, 
others attempted to capture the fugitives, but failed. 

Zinn quickly recovered his good spirits, and the dinner was 
merry enough, despite his close call. Owing to military law 
the restaurant had to close at nine o'clock and the Legionnaires 
returned to their cantonment. They were given a holiday the 
following day, as during practice with a new and very destruc- 
tive kind of hand grenade, five men had been killed or wounded. 
All the small streams and ponds around Crevecoeur were frozen 
almost solid, and the Legionnaires had a great time skating and 
sliding on the ice. 

The Legion returned to the trenches at the end of January, 
this time in the sector north of Tilloloy, where the Troisieme 
de Marche had been the first winter of the war. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Cot said good-bye to the men he had commanded so 
well and so long; he had been promoted general, and called to 
command the Seventieth Infantry Brigade. He was replaced 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez, a splendid officer who had 
already commanded the Legion in Africa. 

Arthur Barry was wounded and gassed by a shell explosion, 
and was sent away to the hospital. He was awarded the Croix 
de Guerre, and cited in the Order of the Regiment: 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

A courageous and devoted Legionnaire. He was wounded February 
6, 1917, at his combat post in a violently bombarded trench. 

The Legion changed sectors a few days later. As it entered 
Montdidier, the Germans began shelling the town, and the 
inhabitants took refuge in the cellars. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Duriez ordered the Legion's band to strike up a lively air, and 
marched at the head of his men through the streets. The 
civilians came out of their shelters to applaud the Legion- 

The French prepared to attack the German lines in March, 
but the enemy refused the combat, and began slowly falling 
back to the Hindenburg Line. The Legion formed part of the 
forces that followed up the retreating foe, and passed through 
the pillaged and devastated countryside, where every town and 
village had been wrecked, and the orchards and groves delib- 
erately cut down. The spectacles they witnessed at Roye, 
Margny-aux-Cerises, Roiglise, and elsewhere along their line of 
march filled the hearts of the Legionnaires with hatred for the 
foe and a desire for vengeance. 

One American volunteer wrote: 'The Boches have systemati- 
cally destroyed all the towns and villages abandoned. Where 
they haven't burned a house, they have made holes through the 
roofs with pickaxes. All the crossroads are blown up at the 
junctions, and when the trees bordering the roads haven't been 
cut down, barricading the roads, they have been cut halfway 
through, so that when the wind blows they keep falling on the 
passing convoys. The inhabitants left in these villages are wild 
with delight and are giving the troops an inspiring reception.' 


Supporting the French Tenth Army Corps, the Legionnaires 
pursued the retreating Germans in the Somme until the latter 


Champagne and Aisne^ 1917 

established themselves along the powerful Hindenburg Line- 
Months of preparation would be required before an assault could 
be made against the enemy works, and at the end of March, 
the Legion went to the rear, and after a few days of repose, 
entrained on April 2 for Cuperly, where some of the men had 
already been, just before and after the great Champagne battle 
in September, 191 5. 

Another huge French offensive in Champagne and the Aisne 
was under preparation. The operation was rendered necessary 
by the Russian Revolution, the bad situation in Italy, and the 
entry of the United States into the war. A victory was needed 
to encourage the civilian population in France, which was 
beginning to grow uneasy and discouraged because of the way 
the war dragged along. 

The Legion was to engage with the entire Fourth French 
Army in the assault of the Moronvilliers Heights; its own 
particular goal was the capture of the village and 'gulf of 
Auberive and the advanced Bouleaux Wood salient. The 
Legionnaires labored for twelve days under a ceaseless bom- 
bardment, repairing the earthworks in the sector from which 
they were to attack, and digging take-off parallels. 

The bombardment of the German positions began on April 
7, but the destruction of the intricate works in the Auberive 
'gulf was put off until the last moment and entrusted to the 
trench mortars and bomb-throwers. 

Maps of the positions to be captured were distributed to 
the Legionnaires, and each battalion, each company, each 
squad knew exactly what was expected of it. The regiment was 
to operate on most unfavorable terrain: a plateau bordered at 
the west by a pine wood, but completely bare to the east. Not 
a movement could be made unseen by the enemy. 

The general attack started on April 16, and the entire German 
first line of defense was taken along all the forty-kilometre 
front of assault. The Legion tackled the tough morsel assigned 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

to it on the following day, and machine-gunner Christopher 
Charles described the action as follows: 

'Just about the time of the battle, the three battalions of the 
Legion were scattered in different sectors, so I cannot tell about 
the corps as a whole. The Third Battalion went into the 
trenches on the night of the 16th with the First Battalion to the 
left of us. It rained something fierce that night and the Legion- 
naires were feeling pretty sore. Their only wish was to go after 
the Boches at the earliest possible moment and the order 
finally came. 

'At fifteen minutes to five o'clock on the morning of the 17th, 
with rain pouring down in bucketfuls, the boys "went over the 
top" and across the fields. The Germans offered no resistance 
until their third line was reached. Then our boys started falling. 
It did not stop us any, and by noon we had gained something 
like four kilometres in depth along a wide front. 

'Something that is new to us is the way we now have of 
pushing forward. It is nothing like the battles I have been in 
before. Formerly we just started forward against the Boches 
with a rush after our artillery had done its work. But in this 
battle it was different. 

'First our batteries smashed the German trenches for a few 
kilometres deep, and when we started forward it was not with 
a whirlwind dash. Instead, a few score men went out armed 
with hand grenades. Naturally the Germans started shooting 
like the mischief when they saw our fellows, but our men were 
picked and were known to have a lot of nerve. They kept 
advancing from shell-hole to shell-hole until they were within 
a few feet of the German positions, when they let fly with the 
grenades and cleaned out the trenches and shelters. Then the 
reserves and machine-gun crews came and took possession. The 
same thing went on from trench to trench. 

'This new method is a fine way of saving men. I cannot say 
what the losses of the Legion have been here, but they are 



Left to right, standing: Frederick W. Zinn, Adjutant Albanel (Zinn's French pilot), 
Eugene Jacob, Andrew Walbron (an American from Patterson, N.J., who served 
throughout the war in a French line regiment and was four times wounded) , Christopher 
Charles, Oscar Mouvet, Jack Moyet, William Paringfield. Seated: Robert Mulhauser, 
Guy Agostini, Raoul Lufbery, Paul Rockwell, Willis Haviland, Algernon Sartoris 

Champagne and Aisne, 1917 

certainly nothing like what they were at Belloy-en-Santerre 
last July. But this new way of righting is far more fatiguing 
than the dashes we used to make. 

'When we attacked with a rush, we got smashed to a certain 
extent, but then we would go back for a few days of repose. In 
the new style of fighting so few are lost that we stay in battle 
much longer and keep dragging along. This time we were five 
days advancing continuously, and, believe me, we were pretty 
tired when it was over. 

'Now, to tell you about the boys: 

'On the 1 8th, Jack Noe was slightly wounded by a shell ex- 
plosion: the first time he has been touched in two and a half 
years at the front. 

'Poor Jimmie Paul was killed after a fine and noble career in 
the Legion. At two o'clock on the afternoon of the 19th the 
boys who were picked from our battalion to throw hand grenades 
were sent forward. In the first wave were Jimmie Paul and 
Henry Claude. Claude pulled through all right, but Jimmie was 
not lucky. 

'With Claude he jumped in and started throwing grenades 
into a sap where there were five Germans. They killed four of 
them outright, but the fifth threw up his hands and shouted 
" Kamerad ! " Jimmie, good-hearted boy, thought the Boche had 
surrendered, and so turned to go to a different sap. The mo- 
ment he turned his back, the Boche picked up a gun and shot 
poor Jimmie through the heart. Some of us arrived just in time 
to see the vile trick the German played, and we certainly cruci- 
fied him. 

'When I arrived, Jimmie lay dead with the German who had 
killed him by his side. The next day Jimmie was carried back 
and buried behind the lines with all honors. All regret his death, 
for he was a brave little lad and an honor to his country and the 

'Only a few hours after Jimmie's death, Gaston Mayer, a 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

young chap who had just arrived at the front from the depots 
was killed instantly by a shell. Arthur Barry narrowly escaped 
death from the same explosion. Frank Whitmore, one of the 
best soldiers here, was badly wounded by a shell the first day of 
the attack. Ivan Nock was hit in the head by a bullet on the 
loth and was carried off the field. 

'I am writing this letter in a former German trench a few 
kilometres behind the present front line. Jack Moyet and 
Arthur Barry are with me, and both are smiling. Barry, who 
saw Moyet just before he went into battle, asked him how he 
liked it. He grinned and said no Boche was born who could 
" get " him. You know Moyet's style. He is a quiet little lad and 
looks as if he would not hurt a flea, but he is brave as a lion.' 

The First Battalion attacked an important German trench 
between the T wood and the Sapiniere earthworks. Heedless of 
a driving rain and a regular tempest of wind, the Legionnaires 
leaped from the sheltering attack parallels, passed at a trot 
along the paths cut previously through their barbed-wire en- 
tanglements, and rushed across the ankle-deep, gluey white 
Champagne mud of No-Man 's-Land toward the German posi- 
tion. They were met with a terrible barrage of machine-gun 
fire: through an error in the preparatory bombardment, the 
enemy trenches were still intact. Wire-clippers were used to 
cut through the German barbed-wire belts, and the khaki-clad 
sea flowed over into the trench, slowly mastering it with gre- 
nade and bayonet. 

The losses had been heavy, and to continue its progression, 
the First Battalion was obliged to call on the reserves of the 
Third (the Second Battalion was supporting the advance of the 
Seventh Algerian Tirailleurs^ and could not aid its comrades of 
the Legion); the two battalions assaulted together the compli- 
cated works in the Bouleaux Woods and the southern part of 
the Auberive 'gulf.' 

The falling of night did not halt for an instant the bitter con- 


Champagne and Aisne, 1917 

flict. The German defenders were vastly superior in number to 
the attacking Legionnaires, as a number of enemy battalions, 
who otherwise should not have been there, had taken shelter in 
the 'gulf when they had been shelled out of their own positions. 
The Legionnaires called to each other in the obscurity, and, re- 
cognizing friend from foe by the voice, relentlessly continued 
their progress. 

Dawn found the Germans forced back to their second line of 
defense and the Legion advancing slowly but ceaselessly, al- 
though hampered by a blinding snowstorm. The Germans were 
resisting with all their strength, and the resistance became more 
and more bitter as Auberive was approached; a capital impor- 
tance was attached by the enemy to the conservation of that 

During the day of the 1 8 th, the trenches called by the Ger- 
mans Byzantium, the Dardanelles, and Prince Eitel, were 
stormed and carried in spite of a desperate defense with ma- 
chine guns, lance-flames, grenades, and trench-daggers. Cor- 
poral Joseph Phillips was killed as he led his squad to the at- 
tack of a machine-gun battery. His body was literally riddled 
with bullets, but his men speedily avenged him. 

In spite of the veritable barriers of death thrown forward by 
the Germans, the Legion, by sheer force of heroism and self- 
sacrifice, moved onward. 

At daybreak of the 19th the main fort of Auberive was 
reached. The French artillery had so pitilessly bombarded the 
position that the Germans finally found it untenable and fled 
just before the men of the Legion arrived; they left behind their 
arms, munitions, equipment, and even articles of clothing 
scattered all about the ground. In the kitchen of the fort was 
found a huge pot of hot coffee, which was quickly emptied by 
the famished Legionnaires, who, since April 16, had had almost 
nothing to eat or drink because of the impossibility of bringing 
up supplies, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

While a section under the command of a sergeant occupied 
the fort and hastily began repairing its defenses, the lieutenant 
commanding the Tenth Company — in which were most of the 
American volunteers and which was leading the advance — set 
out with two grenadiers to explore the ruins of Auberive vil- 
lage. He found it empty of Germans. The latter, fearful of be- 
ing surrounded and forced to surrender, had evacuated the 
formidable position. For thirty months they had labored at 
making Auberive impregnable, cutting deep trenches, erecting 
in the shattered houses concrete platforms for machine- 
gun emplacements, digging commodious bombproof shelters, 
strengthening all with a prodigality of reenforced concrete. 
Many of the heavy steel blockhouses with place inside for two 
machine-gunners, which commanded all the approaches to the 
village, were found intact, although bearing the marks of the 
impact of heavy shells. The irresistible enthusiasm of the Le- 
gion had overcome all obstacles. 

Patrols discovered that the enemy had fallen back and was 
concentrating all his energies on the defense of the fort south of 
Vaudesincourt. This fort defended the salient which it was still 
the Legion's mission to take. 

Reassembling the scattered companies at Auberive, the Le- 
gion again prepared to advance. Two hundred and seventy- 
five of the thousand men of the Third Battalion who had de- 
parted to the assault on April 17 were still valid, and about the 
same number of the First Battalion. Relying on the hand gre- 
nade and the rifle-machine gun, the Legion continued forward. 
Successively the earthworks called by the enemy Posnanie, 
Bayreuth, and the Labyrinth of Auberive were taken. The 
fighting was more than ever fierce. The Germans counter-at- 
tacked time and again, and more than one section of trench or 
boyau changed hands several times during the day. 

During one of the attacks, Corporal John Barret — Alan 
Seeger's friend — fell wounded, and his comrades were forced 


Champagne and Aisne^ iQiy 

to leave him in the hands of the foe. A short while later, by a 
brilliant counter-attack, they retook the trench, and found poor 
Barret's body pinned to the earth by a German bayonet. 
Rather than leave the wounded Legionnaire to be cared for by 
his own men, the Germans had murdered him. 

In their desperation the Germans tried all manner of ruses to 
stop the Legion's advance. Without weapons and with heads 
bared, a group of Germans advanced with hands raised, as if to 
give themselves up. Unsuspecting, the Legionnaires allowed 
them to approach. Arrived almost at the Legion's line, the 
Germans suddenly lowered their arms and hurled the grenades 
which they had carried hidden in their hands. 

There was an instant's panic among the Legionnaires. Then, 
with rage in their hearts, they rushed upon the treacherous foe. 
Not one prisoner was made during the short hand-to-hand 
fight which ensued, and not one German escaped. Shortly 
after, the Grand Boyau was carried, and the fort south of Vau- 
desincourt then fell into the hands of the Legion. 

The Second Battalion had fought with equal tenacity and 
success; it captured the important Trench 67, which was piled 
high with German cadavers, blood-bathed munitions, arms, and 
effects. This trench faced the north, and commanded a narrow 
valley, along which the enemy constantly sought to send re- 
enforcements. The Germans installed a battery of heavy artil- 
lery, supported by numerous infantrymen, within one hundred 
and fifty metres of the Legion, and shelled the French position 
at point-blank range. 

The lines were so mixed and entangled that it was almost im- 
possible to know the exact whereabouts of friend and foe. Dur- 
ing the night of the 20th, a company of the One Hundred and 
Sixty-Eighth French Line Infantry advanced to relieve the re- 
mains of the Sixth and Seventh companies of the Legion. Ad- 
judant-chef Mader, a German who had served with the Legion 
for sixteen years, was watching the German lines and noticed 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

there an unusual movement. Looking closely, he discovered 
that the French infantrymen were walking straight into a trap 
laid by the Germans occupying a small fortin in the valley, and 
that they had already advanced so far that they could not be 
warned without causing the enemy to open fire. 

Mader hastily gathered together ten Legionnaires who were 
on guard in the trenches, picked up a few grenades, and rushed 
along the shallow liaison boyau so rapidly that the enemy ma- 
chine-gunners could not open fire before the Legionnaires had 
reached the dead angle where they were sheltered from the 
bullets. The advanced squad of the One Hundred and Sixty- 
Eighth was now only a few metres from the German/or/w, and 
the Germans were already raising their hands to throw their 
grenades, when the huge Mader sprang upon them. Panic- 
stricken by the unexpected attack, the Germans abandoned 
their munitions and fortin and fled toward their heavy battery, 
while Mader in a few words told the French commander the 

Without losing a second more, Mader, followed by his ten 
Legionnaires and sustained by the men of the One Hundred and 
Sixty-Eighth, jumped into the German saps and started a gre- 
nade combat. The Germans sleeping in the shelters awoke and 
defended themselves with energy, but it was already too late. 
Within a few minutes the battery of six heavy pieces was cap- 
tured, and the infantry company supporting it decimated. The 
battery was turned over to the reserve company of the Seventh 
Tirailleurs, and Mader led his ten men back to their trench. 

The Legion had captured all the objective points assigned to 
it. Chief of Battalion Deville, who was now commanding the 
regiment, said in his report on the night of the 20th: 'My men 
are at the end of their forces physically, but their morale is 
splendid and they refuse to be relieved.' 

In four days and nights of incessant fighting, in spite of the 
weather and mud, the lack of water, the enormous difficulties of 


Champagne and Aisne> 1917 

revictualling, the fatigue, and the sanguinary resistance of the 
foe, the Legion had defeated two regiments of Saxons, and taken 
more then seven kilometres of communicating trenches, all by 
grenade, rifle-machine gun and bayonet fighting. The three 
battalions of foreign volunteers had captured for France eleven 
hundred prisoners, twenty-two cannon, fifty-eight trench mor- 
tars, forty-seven machine guns, and much ammunition, and 
had marked their passage by heaps of German corpses. 

Such an effort, crowned by such a success, was not possible 
without great losses, however, and about half the corps was 
missing at roll-call when the Legion assembled at Mourmelon, 
where it went for two days' rest after the men were withdrawn 
from the firing line at dawn of the 21st. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez was mortally wounded almost at 
the onset of the attack. He started forward with his men, and 
was horribly torn all over the hands, legs, and body by an ex- 
ploding shell. Before he was carried off the field, he extended 
his bleeding hands to his officer and Legionnaires, and repeated 
frequently: ' Bon courage ', mes guerriersV ('Good courage, my 

At the commandment post of the Moroccan Division, where 
the stretcher-bearers first carried him, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Duriez reported the situation of his troops to Colonel Demetz. 
'I excuse myself, my colonel, for having to abandon my fine 
regiment at such a critical moment. Ah! My Legionnaires are 
marvellous soldiers!' 

After his wounds were dressed, the commander shook hands 
with a number of wounded Legionnaires, who crowded about 

'I am badly cut up,' he told them, 'but it doesn't matter; it is 
for France. We must do our duty. Vive la Legion!' 

Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez died the morning of the 18th, at 
a field hospital. His last words were: 1 Vive la France! Vive 
la Legion!' 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

In the same grave with the gallant commander of the Legion 
was buried the body of Frank E. Whitmore. How that superb 
fighting American met his death was told in a final citation in 
French Army Orders: 

Wounded and buried by a shell while crossing the barrage fire on 
April 17, 1 91 7, and having lost consciousness, he rejoined his section 
as soon as he recovered consciousness. He then went with a wounded 
comrade to bring in another wounded comrade who lay between the 
lines under a heavy fire. He was himself mortally wounded that 

Captains Leixelard and Peteau were killed, as were Lieu- 
tenant Boyer, a Bavarian from Munich who had been for years 
in the Legion, and seven other lieutenants. Many other officers 
were wounded, including the popular Captain de Lannurien, 
who took command of the Third Battalion when Chief of Bat- 
talion Deville succeeded Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez in com- 
mand of the Legion. 

The Legion was cited for the fifth time in French Army 
Orders : 

A marvellous regiment which is animated by hatred for the enemy 
and the very highest spirit of sacrifice. 

April 17, 1 917, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez, 
launched itself to the attack of an enemy forewarned and strongly en- 
trenched and captured his first lines. Halted by mitrailleuses and in 
spite of the disappearance of its chief, mortally wounded, continued 
the operation under the orders of Chief of Battalion Deville, by an in- 
cessant combat day and night, until the point assigned was attained, 
fighting body to body throughout five days, in spite of heavy losses 
and considerable difficulty in revictualling; captured from the enemy 
more than two square kilometres of terrain. Forced, by the vigor of 
this progression, the Germans to abandon a strongly organized village, 
where had been broken all our attacks since more than two years. 

Another well-merited and rare tribute to the Legion was the 


Champagne and Aisne, 1917 

publication of an account of its taking of Auberive in the official 
Bulletin of the French Armies, a weekly newspaper furnished 
by the French War Department for circulation among the 
soldiers in the War Zone. One paragraph of this account read: 

In this hell, men of fifty-one nationalities are fighting against the 
Germans. They are struggling not for the safeguard of a hearth or the 
conservation of a national patrimony, neither are they mercenaries 
drawn by high pay or the hope of rich booty; they are there, veterans of 
the old Legion of Africa or volunteers for the duration of the war, the 
most humble like the very highest, of all the cultures, the most simple 
like the most refined, conducted by a single sentiment which domi- 
nates them all — hatred for the Germans and love of liberty. 

Numerous were the decorations and citations won at Auberive. 
Ivan Nock was awarded the Croix de Guerre ; with a glorious 

A grenadier of admirable courage. Wounded April 20, 1917, by a 
bullet in the head, just after he had shot down his fifth German, he ex- 
claimed: 'I will not leave the battlefield until I have killed my sixth 
Boche!' He kept his word. 

Henry Claude received the Croix de Guerre, with a citation 
which called him 'a remarkable grenadier, who gave proof of 
particular daring during the offensive movement of April 20.' 

The same medal, accompanied by worthy citations, was 
awarded to Corporal Guy Agostini, Christopher Charles, Theo- 
dore Haas, and Jack Noe. Nick Karayinis won his second cita- 
tion in the Order of the Day: 

A very brave Legionnaire. On April 19, 1917, he carried riimself 
with great gallantry during the assault on a strongly fortified hostile 
post, and by his hard fighting contributed to the capture of the 

Lieutenant Nazare-Aga was cited as 'a volunteer who has 
bravely carried himself in all the combats delivered by his regi- 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ment, especially in Champagne in 191 5 and in the Somme in 
1 91 6. Again has given proof, during the recent operations, of a 
fine fearlessness under fire and of remarkable devotion. Al- 
ready wounded and twice cited.' 

Frank E. Whitmore was the first American citizen to fall 
fighting in the ranks of the Foreign Legion after the declaration 
of war against Germany by the United States. Christopher 
Charles wrote of him: 

'Whitmore was one of the gamest fighters that ever crossed 
over from the States. He was one of my oldest friends at the 
front. We came from America on the same boat, enlisted to- 
gether in Paris, were sent to the same barracks, went through 
training together and together we shared all hardships. I can 
truthfully say that Whitmore never knew what fear was. That 
is why he sleeps peacefully to-day in a little grave with the 
colonel of the Legion. If he had not been the man he was, he 
would have been in a hospital instead of in the grave.' 

Monsieur Othon Guerlac, a former professor at Cornell Uni- 
versity, who was attached to the French Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs in Paris during the war, after he was wounded at the 
front, said in part in an article contributed to a Paris newspaper 
about Whitmore: 

'The grand public already knows some names of young Amer- 
icans who did not wait until their country was in war to come 
give their blood for the cause of France which they identified 
with that of Humanity. Pierre Mille and other writers have 
woven funeral crowns for these chevaliers of the ideal, these 
noble hearts that the country of dollars has sent us. But Alan 
Seeger, Chapman, Rockwell, were artists, poets, aristocrats, 
men representative of that which is most generous and most 
fine in the American race and in all other races. 

'I know another one more modest, of whose death I have 
just learned. He succumbed in the ranks of the Foreign Legion 
during the last offensive, where his regiment covered itself with 


Champagne and Aisne^ ipi/ 

glory in conquering a front of six to seven kilometres, between 
the heights of Moronvilliers and Auberive. 

'His name was Frank Whitmore. He was neither a lettered 
man, nor an artist, nor an aristocrat. He was a man of the 
common people, one of those very ordinary men of whom Lin- 
coln said one day that the Creator must love them greatly, 
since he had made so many of them. 

' Frank Whitmore came to France, where he did not know a 
living soul, at the very beginning of the war, to enlist in the 
Legion. I made his acquaintance only three months ago, at a 
depot where he was under treatment. At once he interested me 
as a curious psychological and moral case. Why had this Amer- 
ican farmer come to our country to "get his face smashed"? 

'Although a resident of Virginia, Whitmore was not a South- 
erner. In that case, the warmth of the blood might have ex- 
plained many things. No, he was a true Yankee, born north of 
Boston. He was visibly the son of farmers — a product of that 
soil at the same time harsh and fertile which has given the sober, 
ingenuous, and severe race of American peasants. He had, of 
the Yankee farmer, the reticence, the phlegm, the great capac- 
ity for being bored, a certain artlessness and the long silences. 
Having formerly commenced French in a village school, he 
continued to study it with a stubborn patience. He read it well 
and spoke it badly. But he was not discouraged. 

'He was a simple soul, with healthy and pure joys. He did 
not smoke, and his sole stimulant was coffee. He was amused 
by little things, and found an unmixed joy in listening to the 
jokes of the wags in his room. Even-tempered, always placid 
and smiling, this grown-up boy of an unalterable serenity was 
astonishing in a circle where to grumble became a second nature. 

'Whitmore never grumbled. Everything interested him. He 
observed, studied, learned. One day, he confided to me that 
there were fortunes to be made in France in scientific raising of 
chickens according to American methods. Of his own career he 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

never spoke unless questioned. He had received a citation for 
bravery before the enemy. He never boasted of it. He only 
boasted that he had been the only one of his formation who had 
been able to sleep by the cannons, in the midst of a frightful up- 
roar, the eve of the attack in the Somme. He had not only an 
ingenuous soul; he evidently also had a good conscience. 

'He was evidently a chap who had the sentiment of duty, 
like one has sometimes among those descendants of the Puri- 
tans who have not yet learned to be sceptical. He came here to 
fight for our cause because our cause had touched his conscience 
and his heart. And he fought until the end. 

'One day I recall having asked him what had decided him, a 
simple farmer who only knew France by what he had heard said 
of it and what he had read, to come thus and enlist under its 

'He replied: "They were talking a lot around me of enlisting 
to fight for France. They talked. For myself, I decided on 
something other than words." And he came. Decidedly, words 
were not enough for this Yankee. He had to have actions.' 

Frank Whitmore was born near Ellsworth, Maine, on May 
2,1, 1876, the son of Charles Whitmore, a farmer. He went to 
Virginia as a young man, and worked for years on the Old 
Dominion Line boats. With money he had saved, he bought a 
farm on the James River, near Richmond, and was a successful 
poultry farmer until the war called him to France and death. 


John Barret, a young graduate of Dublin University, came to 
France in August, 191 4, and enlisted in the Foreign Legion for 
the duration of the war. He first trained at Toulouse, then by 
an error he was sent to Morocco with a group of German and 
Austrian volunteers. He had many unusual and exciting ex- 
periences there, and obtained a rare insight into the mentality 


Champagne and Aisne> IQ17 

of some of the Germans who had enrolled under the banner of 
France. In a letter written some time after he came to the 
French front, Barret gave a splendid picture of the Foreign 
Legion in Morocco during the World War. 

'I disembarked at Casablanca (Morocco) on the 26th Sep- 
tember, 1914, after a most exciting voyage of five days,' the 
Irish fighter wrote. 'The detachment trudged through the dust- 
laden streets of the old Arab city until we came to the tents that 
were pitched to receive us. My first impression on arriving at 
the camp was a very bad one, as we were forbidden to go into 
the town owing to the fact that the Germans in Casablanca had 
poisoned the flour and the military authorities feared for the 
consequences. At this time also the military in Casablanca 
raided the premises of a big German merchant and found a huge 
stock of sardine boxes, each containing a charge of five car- 
tridges for the modern Mauser rifle. We remained four days 
almost in a state of imprisonment at Casablanca, and each 
day we had news of a new coup on the part of the Kaiser's 

'After four days at Casablanca, we embarked on the little 
narrow-gauge railway for Meknes. We enjoyed the journey very 
much, travelling in little open wagons, and arrived at our des- 
tination after the three most pleasant days we spent in the 
land of the Moors. 

'On disembarking at Meknes, we got our first sample of the 
old Legion, as we were met at the station by fifty grizzly-faced 
veteran N.C.O.'s of the famous Foreign Legion. These men 
were specially chosen amongst the non-coms of the two regi- 
ments of the Legion in Morocco, their special qualities being 
energy and a knowledge of the German language, as almost the 
whole detachment was composed of Germans and Austrians. 
We were conducted to our tents in the camp of Meknes, where 
we were divided into squads and got our first rata from the 
kitchen of the Foreign Legion. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'After the soupe, we were allowed to visit the city, but we had 
to go armed and in groups, as a revolt was expected to break out 
at any moment — the flames being fanned by the German 
agents everywhere. As a precaution, the military authorities 
had the cannons trained on the mosques, as the Arabs are very 
fanatic and dread nothing like the desecration or destruction of 
their places of worship. At this time half-a-million pounds of 
ammunition were found buried in the caves at Meknes pending 
the Arab revolt. 

'After a few days rest in the "most Arab" of all the Moroc- 
can cities, the "pantomime" began — I say "pantomime" be- 
cause it was a most laughable performance — the " Instruction 
Company." There were many Germans who spoke French, but 
there were also many who did not, and consequently the in- 
struction was principally in German. Oh, ye Gods! If the 
Kaiser could only see the "brave" Huns being instructed by 
German N.C.O.'s in the Legion, and in the German tongue — 
with the German prisoners of war (from the Marne) making 
roads near by, to serve as a background! 

'We were three Englishmen, and I may tell you that we were 
hated like poison by those hardy volunteers who preferred to go 
to Morocco to fight for France (whilst waiting for the speedy 
German victory which none of them doubted for an instant) 
rather than pine away in a concentration camp. The German 
bravos who instructed us hated us none the less and their best 
effort at politeness was "sale Anglais!" Here is how my squad 
was composed: corporal, an Austrian (and fanatic Boche); two 
German ex-waiters who worked in Ireland once in the refresh- 
ment rooms of the G. S. & W. Railway; one Prussian from Ber- 
lin; one Bavarian; two German Alsatians; two pure-blooded 
German Austrians, and one Turk. Every solitary man of these 
hoped for the victory of the German armies and openly voiced 
their opinions, particularly when they were a little drunk, which 
happened rather often. In this bedlam, fights with the bayonet 


Champagne and Aisne, IQ17 

were the order of the day, as the French and Allies differed in 
opinion with the sons of the Kaiser. 

'One day in the month of December, '14, I asked a German 
prisoner of war, who was captured at the Marne, what he 
thought of the war, and he replied meekly that he hoped from 
day to day to see the victorious German Army disembark in 
Morocco. All the prisoners were of opinion that the Imperial 
Army was invincible, and at that time many Germans in the 
Legion deserted to the Moroccan Army, where they were of in- 
valuable service to the Moors — a fact which was proved soon 
after (the end of December, '14) when an entire French flying 
column was surrounded and annihilated at six kilometres from 
the post of Khenifra. This column consisted of thirteen hun- 
dred men, horse, foot, and artillery (as well as machine guns). 
They were buried six days later by the Legion and the Sene- 
galese who went to the place by forced marches. Every man 
without exception (officers and all) was stripped naked and 
half-butchered. The sight was an appalling one. Some time 
afterwards, the body (naked still) of the colonel who com- 
manded the colonne was returned in exchange for four Arab 
women who were taken prisoners by us. This coup by the 
Arabs was commanded by a German officer, seconded by de- 
serters from the Legion. I remember well how sick I felt when 
I saw that the men I was compelled to call comrades were de- 
lighted at the French disaster, although they themselves wore 
(or rather disgraced) the French uniform. 

'Our instruction was finished on the 15th December, 1914, 
and we were sent to active companies in the Sixth Battalion 
which was composed entirely of old Legionnaires, mostly Ger- 
mans and Austrians also, as the French had almost all been 
sent to France. 

'The political feeling was very high at this time and fights 
were regularly on the day's menu. I remarked that the Ger- 
mans and Austrians in the old Legion hated their compatriots 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

because they engaged for the war in the Legion instead of re- 
turning to Germany and Austria to fight for the Fatherland. 
However, the English came in for special treatment at the 
hands of those patriotic Huns! 

'I never in all my life heard the English dissected as they 
were by the Germans. They called the Engldnders every filthy 
name from sea to sun, but their principal epithet was "the 
despicable little army of shop-keepers." For my part, I did not 
pay much attention, as I never liked to kick a dog in a manger. 

'We had an American named Daly (from Texas) at this time 
with us. He hailed fresh from the Mexican Revolution, where 
he was a cavalry lieutenant with General Villa. He dressed a 
few Huns in fine shape a T ' Americaine, but unfortunately he 
went to the mounted company, where he hoped to become at 
least a N.C.O., as he had a letter of recommendation from the 
colonel commanding the subdivision. 

'A fact that I could never properly understand was the un- 
dying hatred and jealousy that existed between the old Legion- 
naires and the volunteers for the war — this feeling was even 
more bitter on the part of the officers and the non-coms. 

'To give a sample of how far this animosity was carried — 
the volunteers were forbidden to follow the Peloton des El foes 
Caporaux (Corporals' School), thus depriving them of all chance 
to become corporals or sergeants; however, I must say, in all 
justice to the military authorities, that an exception was made 
in my case. As a matter of fact, I got first place in my exam. — 
a fact which surprised me very much, as I was up against men 
who had from ten to fifteen years' service. When I was ad- 
mitted to the Corporals' School, the Germans in my company 
were furious and swore that they would desert or pass Conseil 
de Guerre sooner than be commanded by a sale Anglais! I may 
remark that my captain (Breville) was an Alsatian who once 
served as first lieutenant in the German Imperial Guard. 

'On the 1st January, 1915, we left Meknes for a campaign 


Champagne and Aisne y 1917 

against the Arabs, who had attacked our outposts all along the 
line. We went by forced marches, up to our knees in mud and 
slush (this mud is the same sand that burns the feet in summer 
time), and on arriving at the last outpost, we entrenched our- 
selves as usual and placed the customary wire entanglements 
around our camp. 

' During this famous march from Meknes to Khenifra, I saw 
for the first time with my open eyes that the Foreign Legion 
was a veritable Legion of veterans. The "Volunteers," al- 
though almost all fine young fellows physically, could not hold 
a candle for the old veterans, and in the hardest hours of the 
march, the old Legionnaires never missed an opportunity of 
slinging mud at their new comrades, especially when one of the 
volunteers fell out. On arriving at the first etape, the captains 
of the different companies wrote a report regarding the conduct 
of the volunteers during the march — and this rapport was not 
a felicitation for us. On the whole, the new Legionnaires did not 
do badly, but, as I have already said, they were not capable of 
sustaining the glorious aureole of the Legion. The esprit de 
corps of the Foreign Legion is the great factor which helps to 
keep it the iron regiment that it is. Every Legionnaire in'the 
old Legion is firmly convinced that the Legion is the greatest 
regiment that exists on earth. 

'On the 5th January, '15, we left camp at 1 a.m. to attack the 
Moroccans that had advanced against our outposts of M'searth 
and Khenifra. We stole a march on them very cleverly by 
bandaging the wheels of our cannon carriages and other vehicles. 

'At 5 a.m., as the sun rose and the dying fires of the two biv- 
ouacs shed their last lustre, the two armies faced one another. 
It was a peculiar sight — the Moors, dressed in their long white 
cloaks and mounted on their fast Arab horses, drawn up in 
serried ranks on the crest of a hill at eight hundred yards from 
our columns. 

'The French Army presented a most picturesque sight, as it 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

contained almost all the colors of the rainbow. There were the 
different regiments of Arab cavalry — Spahis, Tabors, Chas- 
seurs d'Afrique, the Legion, the "Bat. d'Af." or Injanterie 
Legere d'Afrique, Senegalese, Colonial Infantry, Tirailleurs, 
Zouaves, Colonial Artillery — all in their multi-colored regalia. 

'In this fight I had my "baptism of fire" — a rather nerve- 
racking experience, particularly as the Moors continued to ad- 
vance in spite of our artillery and machine-gun fire, but the 
combat was finished by a brilliant cavalry charge of the Alge- 
rian Spahis. It was a drawn fight, like the ones that followed, as 
we were too weak numerically to take the strong positions 
occupied by the Moroccans. 

'The most striking feature in this campaign was the Ger- 
mans in the Legion marching against the enemies of France, 
singing "The Watch on the Rhine"! I must say that the Ger- 
mans fought like lions, but a paradox that beat my powers of 
comprehension was this — they (the Germans) always sang the 
praises of the Legion whilst on campaign, and when back for a 
little rest, drank and sang to the honor and glory of the Ger- 
man Army! 

'The great fort in the Moroccan system of fighting is their 
coups de main or raids by night. They crawl quite naked, and 
greased all over the body, right into the French camps, although 
they have to pass a thick chain of sentries. When they get to 
the little tents, they steal right inside and with a well-sharpened 
knife cut the straps of the rifles (as the rifles are always strapped 
onto the wrists of the soldiers) and steal away again. In the 
event of a soldier awakening, they just cut his throat and make 
the best fist they can of the affair. They are very seldom cap- 
tured under these circumstances. 

'Here is an example: My best comrade, Corporal Ben Dick- 
son (an Englishman), was asleep in his little tent with five of 
his men at Iat-Lias, when a Moroccan stole in and cut the 
straps of two rifles; just as he was getting away, my friend Ben 


Champagne and Aisne> 1917 

Dickson awoke, and as he felt immediately for his rifle, found 
that it was gone. He dashed after the Moroccan with the bayo- 
net in his hand; just at this moment, the sentry fired on the 
marauder and missed, but in his haste, the Arab dropped one 
rifle, but not that of Ben Dickson. My friend the corporal was 
court-martialled, but got only thirty days' prison (which he 
never served) on account of his plucky conduct. He (B. D.) 
was sent to the Third Battalion, where he arrived (at Fez) one 
Saturday evening. On the following day (Sunday), he was 
placing the sentries near the position occupied by the company 
when another Arab stole up on a rifle-stealing raid. Ben Dick- 
son spotted the thief, but the wily Moroccan got his blow in 
first and killed my best friend in Morocco and one of the most 
intelligent and energetic corporals in the Foreign Legion. 

'Once we were out for a campaign, and on returning at night 
after a pretty good set-to with the Arabs, we were followed by 
some of their most daring scouts. At eight o'clock, when the 
officers were going to dine, an Arab stole right up to a lieuten- 
ant of the Algerian Spahis, at five or six paces from a sentry, 
and killed the officer dead and got right away. I was almost 
twenty paces from the scene, but just heard the officer's first 
and last cry. 

'When the Moroccans take our men prisoners, they strip and 
torture them. There are still many French officers in their 
hands. Some have their eyes gouged out, and others are forced 
to make ammunition and instruct the Arabs in the use of the 
machine guns and cannons; but I am certain that those officers 
deceive them by every possible means, as they never succeed in 
manipulating the guns they happen to capture. 1 

'I passed corporal in August, 191 5, and got the Colonial 
Medal the same month. In September, 191 5, I was ordered 

1 Corporal Barret's account of the righting in Morocco might well be a description 
of the warfare still going on between the French and the Moorish tribes in the un- 
pacified regions of that country, where conditions are very much as they were in 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

back to France. On my return journey to Casablanca to take 
the boat, I spent an evening and night at a small town called 
Kenitra, where I met and spoke with some German prisoners of 
war, among whom was an individual that interested me very 
much. This German had already served fifteen years in the 
Foreign Legion, and at the outbreak of the present war was 
quietly enjoying his pension from the Legion at Aix-la-Cha- 
pelle. As a German reservist, he was forced to march with his 
old German regiment, but at the battle of the Marne was taken 
prisoner and afterwards sent to Morocco with others of his 
countrymen. This German told me that he commanded a sec- 
tion of the Legion (as sergeant) at the taking of the same town 
of Kenitra where he now finds himself safely installed as a 
German prisoner of war. He was certainly an authority on the 
military conquest of Morocco, and appeared to know the names 
of all the French officers of any note who took part in the differ- 
ent expeditions in Eastern and Western Morocco. Notwith- 
standing his fifteen years with the Legion and his pension from 
the French Government, he remained German at heart and did 
not appear to regret his fate and his pension. 

'On arriving at Casablanca, I was informed that I should 
wait ten days for a boat for Bordeaux. This delay permitted 
me to witness the most peculiar coincidence that I have ever 
known or heard of. 

'One morning, the sergeant of the day entered our room at 
the Depot des Isoles and commanded me to take part in a mili- 
tary funeral, as the deceased soldier was a Legionnaire. 

'On arriving at the hospital with the four men that formed 
the detachment, I entered the little room where the corpse was 
laid out, to pay my last respects to a departed comrade, which 
consisted of a military salute. Instead of one corpse, I found 
two, and, to satisfy my curiosity, I began to read the inscrip- 
tions on the coffins. Imagine my surprise on finding that both 
the deceased men were Germans and (appalling coincidence) 


Champagne and Aisne, 1917 

both had the same surname and were from the same little 
Prussian town. One was dressed in the German campaign uni- 
form (a prisoner of war who died of pneumonia) and the other 
in the uniform of the Foreign Legion. 

'The Legionnaire was born a Prussian, naturalized French, 
and had finished his fifteeen years' service in the Legion when 
the war broke out, but was forced to serve during the war as a 
naturalized Frenchman. 

'They were both buried in the same grave on the sandy beach 
of Casablanca, with a broiling African sun to dissipate the last 
vestige of that heritage of hate which the fortunes of war pre- 
vented them from transmitting to posterity.' 


The One Hundred and Seventieth Line Infantry Regiment 
fought just to the left of the Foreign Legion during the April, 
1917, Aisne-Champagne offensive. On the morning of the 16th 
it charged the German works in the Bois du Seigneur. Six 
hundred Bavarians, all the survivors of two full regiments who 
were holding the position when the French preliminary bom- 
bardment started, surrendered without a struggle to the first 
wave of assault, five hundred Frenchmen strong. The prisoners 
had hardly been sent toward the rear and work started to re- 
pair the battered trenches, before a Prussian Guard regiment 
commenced a violent counter-attack. 

Sergeant Eugene Jacob was commanding a section of engi- 
neers, recently formed to follow up the first wave of attack and 
to repair roads and destroyed bridges and to widen the breaches 
in the German barbed-wire entanglements so that reinforce- 
ments could advance rapidly. When the Prussian Guardsmen 
rushed forward, he ordered his men to throw down their picks, 
shovels, and other implements of toil and to take up their rifles 
and grenades; the engineers then took their place in the first 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

line of defense of the conquered position, and after a desperate 
fight the ground was maintained. 

The One Hundred and Seventieth consolidated and held all 
the terrain it had taken, in spite of all the enemy efforts to re- 
capture it. During the fighting, Corporal Frank Dupont was 
badly injured and taken away to the hospital incapacitated for 
further fighting. Eugene Jacob conducted himself with such 
cool courage on all occasions that he was again cited in Army 
Orders. Lieutenant Robert Mulhauser was promoted to a place 
on the staff of the colonel commanding the regiment, and Ser- 
geant Ferdinand Capdevielle was promoted aspirant-officer. 
His colonel named him as one of the three best under-officers in 
the entire regiment, and granted him three weeks' leave of 
absence to visit his family in New York. 

The main French offensive operations in the Aisne-Cham- 
pagne region came to an end on April 20, because of the inter- 
ference of panic-stricken French politicians. The plans of 
General Nivelle had been hampered from the very start by lack 
of confidence on the part of certain members of the Govern- 
ment in Paris. Exaggerated tales of French losses were put into 
circulation throughout France by traitors and a small group of 
politicians apparently anxious to see Germany win the war. 
General Nivelle was virtually disgraced, and France's great 
military genius, General Mangin, was sacrificed to the de- 
faitist element in Paris and the command of an army was taken 
away from him. 

As a matter of fact, the offensive had started off well. A 
great amount of terrain was gained, and by April 20, Nivelle's 
forces had captured twenty-one thousand German prisoners, 
along with one hundred and eighty-three cannon, hundreds of 
mitrailleuses, and heaps of ammunition and supplies. The 
French losses were much less than in previous offensive actions: 
fifteen thousand killed, twenty thousand five hundred missing, 
and sixty thousand wounded. The politicians in Paris claimed 


Champagne and Aisne, igiy 

to Marshal Haig, who insisted that the offensive continue, that 
the losses were more than double that number. A wave of 
pessimism and despair swept over the civilian population of 
France, and eventually reached the army at the front. 

The newly invented French 'tanks' were first tried out on 
April 1 6, but the results were not what had been hoped for 
from them. Heavily loaded with extra gasoline, in order to 
cover the great distance between their starting-point and the 
German third-line defenses they were to attack, they moved 
very slowly and were destroyed by the enemy artillery. Many 
were set on fire by shells, and their heroic crews roasted alive. 
The infantry was untrained to work with the 'tanks,' and co- 
operation between the two arms was bad. 

Wild stories concerning the failure of the 'tanks' were told in 
the interior of France, and added to the general depression. 
Many civilians had honestly expected the new war engines 
rapidly to drive the invaders back across the Rhine. The word 
that the 'machine to end the war' had not yet been invented 
came as a bitter disappointment. 

Chapter XIV 



There was considerable aerial activity in the Somme 
throughout the winter of 1916-17, despite unfavorable 
weather conditions, and the pilots of the Escadrille 
Americaine were constantly on the wing. They shared an 
aviation field, which was a veritable sea of mud, with eight 
other celebrated French escadrilles de ckasse, and lived a cold 
and uncomfortable life in a portable wooden barrack, through 
the wide cracks of which a glacial wind swept night and day. 
The nearest town, Cachy, was fifteen kilometres away, and it 
was next to impossible to obtain anything other than the bare 
necessities of life. The pilots slept in their fur-lined flying com- 
binations, and their lion-cub mascot cuddled up to them for 

Because of the importance of their aviation field, it was fre- 
quently bombed at night by German machines. Paul Pavelka 
and Lieutenant de Laage de Meux, the second in command of 
the Escadrille, volunteered to do night flying and attack the 
raiders. On one of the night flights Pavelka had a most unusual 
and dangerous experience, of which he wrote: 

'The Germans came over the other night and raided our 
camp. They dropped eight bombs in all, and set fire to one 
of the hangars of Captain Guynemer's escadrille, Nieuport 3, 
which is located next to us. The hangar blazed up in a hurry 
and one mechanic was burned to death. He was pinned under 
an aeroplane, knocked over by the bombs' explosion. When we 



The Lafayette Escadrille in the Somme 

got him out, in his charred hand was found a knife with which 
he had tried to cut himself free. 

' In the midst of all the excitement I flew up in my new eighty 
horse-power, fifteen-metre Nieuport, in hopes of meeting some 
of the Germans and adding another to my list. After leaving 
the ground my lights failed to work. It was no moment to turn 
back, so I continued without lights. Not being able to signal 
the ground, I was subjected to a most intense fire from our 

'I kept on mounting, but did not see anything of the invad- 
ers. Strange to tell, I knew where I was all the time until I flew 
over Amiens. Then, suddenly, all the lights below went out, 
and from then on I did not know where I was. 

'To come down certainly would have resulted disastrously 
for me. Every time I neared the earth, the machine guns on 
the ground would start in working on me. The gunners could 
not see me, but were shooting in the direction of the sound of 
my motors, with tracer bullets. Some came very close, I as- 
sure you. 

'I flew around and around, not wishing to get too far away 
from my base. At daylight, having completely exhausted my 
fuel, I landed at Martainville, about forty kilometres from the 
home camp. Bad weather forced me to remain there some days. 
I put up at a chateau occupied by British officers and was 
royally welcomed and finely treated. When it cleared up, I 
flew back here.' 

Pavelka learned later that he had been signalled all about 
Amiens as a hostile aeroplane and had created much excitement 
among the inhabitants. Amiens had been bombarded several 
times by the German aviators, and many women and children 
were killed. On one occasion a bomb fell through the roof of a 
military hospital. It crashed through a bed occupied by a 
wounded soldier, and struck exactly where the man's leg would 
have been had it not been amputated by the surgeon the morn- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ing before. The bomb then stuck in the floor and did not 

Juan Roxas, of Manila, the sole Filipino volunteer flying for 
France at the front, was killed in aerial combat in December. 
His escadrille was one of those that shared the Cachy field with 
the Americans, and Pavelka and others who had gone to flying 
school at Pau with him saw him start off" on his last flight. He 
attacked a Fokker high over the lines, and a French pilot saw 
his Nieuport fall in flames behind the German trenches. 

Roxas belonged to one of the most distinguished of the great 
land-owning families in the Philippine Islands. He was a stu- 
dent at the Beaux-Arts in Paris when war was declared, and at 
once entered the service of France. He became a skillful pilot, 
and was decorated with theCroix de Guerre with several citations. 

Jim McConnell fell ill with rheumatism in his injured back, 
and was forced to enter the hospital. Bert Hall left the Esca- 
drille Americaine and eventually was sent to Russia. After the 
revolution there, he went to the United States and never re- 
turned to Europe during the war. 

Volunteer aviators were asked to go to the Saloniki front, and 
Pavelka responded to the call. He had been lonely since the 
death of his old camarade de combat, KifHn Rockwell, and felt 
that a change of scene might improve his spirits. 

The German Ambassador at Washington, Count BernstorfF, 
protested to the State Department there against the presence 
on the Western Front of a group of aviators known as the Es- 
cadrille Americaine, and the American Government obediently 
sent a note to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To avoid 
international complications the name of the American unit was 
first changed to the Escadrille des V olontaires. Then, upon the 
suggestion of the French Embassy at Washington, it was called 
the Escadrille Lafayette. The American flyers liked the new 
name, and worked all the harder to make it famous and thereby 
render the German Ambassador ridiculous. 


The Lafayette Escadrille in the Somme 

When the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line began in 
March, 1917, the French Aviation was kept more busy than 
ever, and the American pilots took an active part in observing 
and hindering the enemy. McConnell slipped away from the 
hospital and returned to the front, although his back was still 
so stiff that his comrades had to help him dress. 

He was killed on the morning of March 19, in an aerial com- 
bat over Flavy-le-Martel, near Ham. Little Genet, who was 
with McConnell on his last flight, told of it: 

'Mac and I kept on and at ten o'clock were circling around 
the region of Ham, watching out for the heavier machines 
doing reconnoitring work below us. We went higher than a 
thousand metres during that time. About ten, for some reason 
or other of his own, Mac suddenly headed into the German 
lines toward Saint-Quentin and I naturally followed close to his 
rear and above him. Perhaps he wanted to make observations 
around Saint-Quentin. At any rate, we had got north of Ham 
and quite inside the hostile lines, when I saw two Boche ma- 
chines crossing toward us from the region of Saint-Quentin at 
an altitude quite higher than ours. We were then about sixteen 
hundred metres. I supposed Mac saw them the same as I did. 
One Boche was much farther ahead than the other, and was 
headed as if he would dive at any moment on Mac. I glanced 
ahead at Mac and saw what direction he was taking, and then 
pulled back to climb up as quickly as possible to gain an ad- 
vantageous height over the nearest Boche. It was cloudy and 
misty and I had to keep my eyes on him all the time, so 
naturally I couldn't watch Mac. The second Boche was still 
much farther off than his mate. By this time I had got to 
twenty-two hundred; the Boche was almost up to me and tak- 
ing a diagonal course right in front. He started to circle, and 
his gunner — it was a biplane, probably an Albatross, al- 
though the mist was too thick and dark for me to see much but 
the bare outline of his dirty, dark-green body, with white and 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

black crosses — opened fire before I did, and his first volley did 
some damage. One bullet cut the left central support of my 
upper wing in half, an explosive bullet cut in half the left guid- 
ing rod of the left aileron, and I was momentarily stunned by 
part of it which dug a nasty gouge into my left cheek. I had al- 
ready opened fire and was driving straight for the Boche with 
teeth set and my hand gripping the triggers making a veritable 
stream of fire spitting out of my gun at him, as I had incendiary 
bullets, it being my job lately to chase after observation bal- 
loons, and on Saturday morning I had also been up after the re- 
ported Zeppelins. I had to keep turning around the Boche every 
second, and he was circling around toward me and I was on the 
inside of the circle, so his gunner had all the advantage over me. 
I thought I had him on fire for one instant as I saw — or sup- 
posed I did — flames on his fuselage. Everything passed in a 
few seconds and we swung past each other in opposite directions 
at scarcely twenty-five metres from each other — the Boche 
beating off toward the north and I immediately dived down in 
the opposite direction, wondering every second whether the 
broken wing support would hold together or not and feeling 
weak and stunned from the hole in my face. A battery opened 
a heavy fire on me as I went down, the shells breaking just be- 
hind me. I straightened out over Ham at a thousand metres, 
and began to circle around to look for Mac or the other Boche, 
but saw absolutely nothing the entire fifteen minutes I stayed 
there. I was fearful every minute that my whole top wing 
would come off, and I thought that possibly Mac had got 
around toward the west over our lines, missed me, and was al- 
ready on his way back to camp. So I finally turned back for our 
camp, having to fly very low and against a strong northern 
wind, on account of low clouds just forming. I got back at a 
quarter to eleven and my first question to my mechanic was: 
"Has McConnell returned?" 

"'He hasn't, Paul, and no news of any sort have we had of 


The Lafayette Escadrille in the Somme 

him yet, although we hoped and prayed every hour yesterday 
for some word to come in.... There's no use in losing hope yet. 
If a prisoner, Mac may even be able to escape and return to our 
lines, on account of the very unsettled state of the retreating 

/~i jy y 


Some days later a French cavalry patrol found McConnell's 
body lying beside his badly smashed aeroplane. 

A peasant woman who saw McConnell's last fight after- 
wards related that he engaged battle with a German aeroplane, 
and while he was thus busy a second enemy machine dived 
upon him from behind. He was shot through the body by sev- 
eral bullets, any one of which would have proved fatal. 

McConnell ended a letter, written in case of death: 

'My burial is of no import. Make it as easy as possible for 
yourselves. I have no religion and do not care for any service. 
If the omission would embarrass you, I presume I could stand 
the performance. 

'Good luck to the rest of you. God damn Germany and 
vive la France! 

'(Signed) J. R. McConnell' 

McConnell had already been decorated with the Croix de 
Guerre, and a second and posthumous citation read: 

An American citizen engaged in the service of France. A pilot as 
modest as he was courageous, saying often to his comrades: 'So much 
the better if I must be killed, since it is for France.' He found a glori- 
ous death March 19, 1917, in the course of a combat against enemy 

Genet was decorated with the Croix de Guerre, and cited in 
the Order of the Army: 

An American citizen engaged in the service of France. Has given 
proof of the very finest qualities of ardor and devotion, delivering 
aerial combats since his first arrival at the Escadrille, carrying out re- 


A?nerican Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

connaissances at a low altitude, and dispensing his energies un- 

March 19, 1917, he was wounded during a combat with two enemy 
aeroplanes and refused to interrupt his service. 

James Roger McConnell was the last American citizen killed 
fighting the Germans in French uniform before the entry into 
the World War of the United States; Edmond Charles Clinton 
Genet was the first American citizen to fall after the United 
States declared war against Germany. 

Genet was slain by German anti-aircraft batteries on the 
afternoon of April 16. He had been feeling ill for some time, but 
insisted on going out on patrol with Raoul Lufbery, although 
one of the other pilots offered to take his place. On account of 
the clouds the two aviators flew low. Over the enemy lines they 
encountered a heavy fire from the cannon on the ground, and 
suddenly Lufbery saw his companion make a half-turn, as if he 
were returning home. 

Lufbery tried to follow Genet, but lost him in the clouds. He 
was greatly surprised when he returned to the aviation field to 
find that Genet had not arrived. A few minutes later the news 
came by telephone that Genet had fallen five kilometres within 
the French lines. Wounded by a shell fragment, he had strug- 
gled valiantly to get home, but had evidently lost consciousness 
in the air. The aeroplane had crashed into the middle of a road 
with the motor at full speed, and was one of the most complete 
wrecks ever seen. 

Genet, the 'Benjamin of the Escadrille Lafayette] as Captain 
Thenault called him, was buried with fitting honors in the mili- 
tary cemetery at Ham, in the midst of a driving snowstorm. 
At the moment Captain Thenault, who had read the office, said 
'Amen,' the sun pierced the clouds for an instant and illumi- 
nated the bier, 'like a benediction from Heaven,' as one of the 
pilots said later. 

Genet had been made happy by the entry into the war of his 

2 54 

The Lafayette Escadrille in the Somme 

native land, on the Allied side, as he had suffered keenly be- 
cause the United States so long remained neutral. When Mr. 
Wilson was reelected President on a 'He kept us out of war' 
platform, Genet wrote home: 

'Where has all the old genuine honor and patriotism and hu- 
man feeling of our countrymen gone? What are those people, 
who live on their farms in the West, safe from the chances of 
foreign invasion, made of, anyway? They decided the election 
of Mr. Wilson. Don't they know anything about the invasion 
of Belgium, the submarine warfare against their own countrymen, 
and all the other outrages which all neutral countries, headed by 
the United States, long ago should have risen up and suppressed, 
and which, because of the past Administration's "Peace at 
any Price" attitude, have been left to increase and increase? 
They crave for peace, those unthinking, uncaring voters, and 
what's the reason? Why, they are making money hand over 
fist because their country is at peace — at peace at the price of 
its honor and respect in the whole civilized world; at peace 
while France and Belgium are being soaked in blood by a bar- 
barous invasion; while the very citizens of the United States are 
being murdered and these same invaders are laughing behind 
our backs — even in our very faces. It couldn't be possible for 
Americans in America to feel the same bitter way as Americans 
over here among the very scenes of this war's horrors. It is not 
comprehensible over there that tragedy reigns supreme. Come 
over here and you will be engulfed like the rest of us in the 
realization of the necessity of the whole civilized world arming 
itself against this intrusion of utter brutality and militaristic 
arrogance. Peace — God forbid such happiness until the in- 
vaders have been driven back behind their own borders, know- 
ing the lessons of their folly in treading ruthlessly on unoffend- 
ing neutral territory and all the rest of their deeds of piracy, and 
the blood of France and Belgium has dried up.' 

Genet was cited posthumously: 

2 55 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

A devoted and courageous pilot, who found a glorious death on 
April 1 6, 1917. He terminated the enumeration of his last wishes with 
the words: ' Vive la France toujour s.' 

The Fscadrille Lafayette moved its camp to Ham, where it 
was nearer to the new battle-front fixed by the German retreat. 
Its ranks had been grievously thinned, but there were new men 
learning to fly at the schools. Lawrence Scanlan had been in- 
valided out of the Foreign Legion on January 1, 1 917, with one 
leg six inches shorter than the other, after more than a year and 
a half in the hospital. He came directly to Paris; a week later 
he enlisted in the Aviation, and started in training as a pilot at 
Camp d'Avord. Louis Charton, also just out of the hospital, 
followed him on February 20, and Charles Trinkard was with- 
drawn from the trenches on March 13 and sent to Avord to 
learn to fly. Bouligny was transferred to the Aviation Corps on 
May 15, after his wounded leg healed. He had put in numerous 
applications to become an aviator, but his officers had been 
loath to let him leave the Legion, where he was a valuable and 
reliable sous-officer. 

Chapter XV 


The American volunteers fighting in the French Army 
welcomed the entry of their native land into the war on 
the Allied side, but they were too busy at the front to 
celebrate the news properly when it first reached them. Ser- 
geant Jacob voiced the sentiment of all his comrades when he 

'At last a good thing has been done by our country. Our 
President has shown the Boches that he can fight with real 
weapons as well as with notes. I see in the French newspapers 
that Mr. Wilson is calling for American volunteers for the 
United States Army. If possible I wish to be attached to the 
Expeditionary Army sent to France, but I would not like to be 
sent to a training camp as an instructor. I wish to fight the 
Germans to the last — until they are licked, as they deserve.' 

The United States Military Attaches in Paris received nu- 
merous letters from the Americans who had been fighting for 
France. Joseph Lydon wrote from the hospital where he had 
been for a year and a half, offering to serve as an automobilist 
with the American Army when it came to France, and John 
Cordonnier wrote from the front, volunteering to transfer to 
the first American regiment to arrive in France. 

The little group of Americans still left in the Foreign Legion 
wrote directly to President Wilson and offered their services to 
the American Army which they expected would soon be in 
France. Their letter read: 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

To the President of the United States of America: 

Sir: We, the undersigned, American citizens serving with the For- 
eign Legion, beg to request most earnestly your intervention in order 
that we may obtain our liberation from said regiment to enter our own 
service. We beg to point out that whatever our individual records as 
soldiers may be, the Americans have enjoyed a reputation in the Le- 
gion for more than ordinary valor. Many have been wounded, many 
killed, including some quite recently. We beg to point out that the 
other Allied Powers, notably Belgium, England, Russia, Italy, and 
Portugal, have had their citizens or subjects liberated from this corps 
and transferred to their own armies. We think we merit the same 
consideration, and we confidently count on your prompt and immedi- 
ate action to obtain the desired result. To delay means that we will be 
sent in all probability into future attacks with the loss of many lives 
of great value to our own forces when they will have arrived here. The 
experience and training that we have received in this regiment will un- 
doubtedly render most of us of great and inestimable service to our 
own countrymen still unused to modern warfare. Since our country 
has taken part under your wise leadership in the great struggle for 
liberty and humanity we, who are, so to speak, the advanced guard of 
the American forces, respectfully bring your attention to the need of 
immediate action toward our liberation, and we claim our right as 
American citizens to fight under our own flag. Therefore, we rely on 
your own patriotic spirit to see that we obtain this right without 

With the expression of our respect and confidence, we are, sir, 
Your obedient servants. 

An answer to these offers finally came back from Washing- 
ton, as follows: 

War Department, A.G.O. 
June 29, 1917 

To Captain Carl Boyd, Third Cavalry Military Attache 
American Embassy, Paris 

The subject of utilization of the services of Americans serving 
abroad has received the careful consideration of the War Department 


America Enters the War I 

in a number of instances, and the conclusion has been reached that it 
is not deemed for the best interest of the United States for the War 
Department to request the discharge of Americans serving in the 
Allied Armies except in special cases where it is clearly advantageous 
to do so. 

The cases in question are not believed to be of such a character as to 
warrant the War Department in making such a request. 
By order of the Secretary of War. 

{Signed) J. T. Dean 

Adjutant General 

The American volunteers were intensely disappointed with 
the fashion in which their offer to serve their own country was 
received by the United States Government. They took the 
matter up with various Army and State officials, and some of 
them came to Paris on leave and spoke with members of the 
American Military Mission and to various persons at the Amer- 
ican Embassy, without, however, getting any satisfaction 
either by word or by writing. Algernon Sartoris criticized as 
follows the action of the War Department: 

'It is a disgrace to our Government that these men have been 
so far overlooked by the United States Army in its search for 
experienced men to train and lead the new Army. All the other 
Allies — Russia, England, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal — ■ 
were quick to perceive the advantage they would have in per- 
mitting their citizens of wide experience at the front to come to 
their own armies and to impart to their comrades at first hand 
all that they had learned in the Legion — a perfect harvest. 
The United States alone has not only not profited by this op- 
portunity, but would seem even to regard these splendid speci- 
mens of their valiant manhood as a band of adventurers with 
little or nothing to recommend them. In the mean time they 
plod on, and a golden opportunity is lost.' 

Lieutenant Charles Sweeny was able to get leave from the 
French Government to return to America, and, after consider- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ble struggle with red tape and jealousy at Washington, en- 
listed in the United States Army, and was given the rank of 
major. Sweeny had spent many months in the hospital from 
his wound, which was complicated by abscesses occasioned by 
bits of cloth carried into his chest and lung by the bullet. He 
then had spent some time drilling recruits at La Valbonne, and 
at the officers' training school at Montelimar, after which he 
trained for some months with the new 'tanks' corps. 

In the United States Army, Sweeny trained soldiers at Fort 
Myer, Virginia, in modern methods of warfare, and was finally 
sent back to France with the American Expeditionary Forces. 
He was promoted lieutenant-colonel about the time of the 

Alvan F. Sanborn volunteered as interpreter as soon as the 
first United States troops arrived in France; in September, 
1917, he was named member of the Inter-Allied Commission for 
the professional reeducation of war cripples as representative of 
the Department of the Interior, and held that post until 1923. 


The Foreign Legion spent some time in the region of Cuperly 
after its exploits around Auberive; the Legionnaires reposed 
themselves from the strain and fatigue of battle, while the 
battalions were re-formed and brought up to full strength with 
new officers and men from the depot. Battalion-Chief Deville 
turned over the command of the regiment to Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Rollet, an energetic officer with many years' experience 
leading the Legion in the Colonies. 

The morale of the Legionnaires was entirely unaffected by the 
crisis of pessimism which crept up toward the front from the 
civilian population far away from the field of battle. A few 
French regiments were touched by the 'peace at any price' 
propaganda put in circulation by spies and traitors, became 


America Enters the War! 

discouraged, and refused to obey their officers; some units at- 
tempted to disband and return home. In the Aisne sector a 
mutiny was started, and officers were hissed or even fired upon 
by their own men. Severe repressive measures were taken, and 
a number of ringleaders in the mutiny were court-martialled 
and shot. 

Throughout all the period of unrest the Legion remained 
calm and faithful, setting to the regiments around it a wonder- 
ful example of fidelity. On June 20, 1 917, it was sent into the 
trenches at Berry-au-Bac to replace a French regiment which 
was getting restless and on the verge of mutiny. The French 
High Command knew that the Foreign Legion was one of the 
units in whose loyalty full confidence could be placed. 

The Berry-au-Bac trenches were in a salient dominated by 
the white craters and desolated terrain of Hill 108 of bloody 
memory, and were just a little way to the right of the sector 
held by the Deuxieme Etranger during the first winter of the 
war. The Germans hemmed the Legionnaires in on three sides, 
and kept up a ceaseless activity. Christopher Charles wrote of 
how the Legion was welcomed back into the trenches: 

'We are in a line of trenches captured from the Boches only a 
few months ago. Naturally they do not like this and it is not 
any too quiet here. The Germans started pounding at us some- 
thing fierce about noon yesterday and continued throughout the 
afternoon and evening until our trenches looked pretty sick. 
As our batteries did not answer, we were feeling nervous to a 
certain extent, but later we found out why the batteries did not 

' The Germans were bombarding along a seven-kilometre front 
and the wise French artillery boys knew that the Boches would 
not try to make us a visit on so wide a line; so they simply 

'The Germans are known for making late calls and we ex- 
pected them about midnight. Sure enough at eleven o'clock 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

they again let loose something fierce and I started to say good- 
bye to the United States of America, for it certainly was hot. 
Then the Germans started to attack along a front of about two 
kilometres and the French seventy-fives let go. Believe me, 
those Boches surely received a shock. Once more, however, 
they started a bombardment which lasted until 3.30 a.m. Then 
they again began an infantry attack, but we objected to their 
calling at such an hour. Now they must have a very bad opin- 
ion of us, for we treated them roughly. 

'This second attack, which they wanted to make at dawn, 
was to be a surprise, but one of our aviators, who is an early 
bird, was flying over their trenches. He noticed their prepara- 
tions and signalled to our artillery. The Boches certainly saw 
some fireworks! The nearest they got to us was to a hospital or 
to the happy hunting grounds. They seem to have learned a 
lesson, for now they are behaving nicely. 

'Those who say that all the French soldiers are tired and fed 
up should have seen the boys to the left of us. They are some 
soldiers! When on leave they may do a little kicking, but it is a 
different story when they are at the front. They don't receive 
the Boches with any of that "kamarade" stuff, but with all the 
fireworks on hand.' 

Schuyler Deming was fatally wounded during the German 
bombardment. It was his first day in the trenches, and a huge 
torpedo hurled over by an enemy trench-mortar exploded near 
him; his left leg was torn off* just below the knee, and bits of 
splinter lodged in his stomach. Deming was hastened to a field 
hospital, and died there on June 22. He was born at Columbus, 
Ohio, on March 24, 1884. 

The Legion was taken out of the Berry-au-Bac trenches on 
July 7, and transported in auto-busses to Dampierre-de-l'Aube, 
one of the most agreeable repose cantonments the regiment had 
yet seen. The Legionnaires were kindly received by the in- 
habitants of the town, and enjoyed the manoeuvres and train- 


America Enters the War! 

ing in new combat formation which were carried out in the big 
woods and wide prairies around Dampierre. The chief point of 
the new formation was that every section was divided into two 
attack squads and two reserve squads; during a battle the re- 
serve squads were to keep about twenty metres behind the 
attack squads. 

General Gouraud passed the regiment in review, and deco- 
rated a number of the officers and men with medals they had 
won at Auberive. On July 12 the flag of the regiment, accom- 
panied by a guard of honor, one of whom was Nick Karayinis, 
led by Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet, was taken to Paris, to partici- 
pate in the great military review there on July 14. The next 
issue of the Bulletin of the French armies told, in an account of 
the ceremony in Paris, of a new homage paid to the Legion : 

Saturday, July 14, 1917, the Regiment de Marche de la Legion 
Etrangere received the just recompense due to a striking bravery. 
Five times cited in the Order of the Army, it saw itself awarded before 
any other troop the yellow and green fourragere. Its immortal glory 
has been proclaimed over the face of the earth. 

After the declaration of war by the United States, several 
Americans enlisted in the Legion, including Richard Allen 
Blount, of Wilson, North Carolina; Garrett Foley, of Chicago, 
Illinois; O. L. McLellan, of New Orleans, Louisiana; and Wal- 
ter Raymond Pierce, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Blount 
was about twenty-three years old, and had lived abroad for 
several years with his father, a wholesale drug manufacturer. 
Foley was just out of Harvard College, while McLellan was the 
dean of all the American volunteers in the Foreign Legion dur- 
ing the World War. 

McLellan was a former Louisiana State Senator, and was sixty- 
five years old when the United States entered the war against 
Germany. He first tried to enlist in the United States Army, 
but was refused because of his age. He thereupon embarked for 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

France, and, giving his age as forty years, volunteered in the 
Foreign Legion as soon as he arrived in Paris. 

Shortly after he reached the Legion's depot at Lyon, Mc- 
Lellan made the acquaintance of a seventeen-year-old French 
youth, who soon asked the American for a loan of one thousand 
francs. McLellan refused, whereupon the boy drew a revolver 
and fired two shots at him; one bullet went wild, while the sec- 
ond hit McLellan in the shoulder and slightly wounded him. 
McLellan was taken to the hospital, but was soon well enough 
to rejoin the Legion at La Valbonne. His assailant was ar- 
rested, and callously confessed that he had intended to kill the 
American volunteer and throw his body into the Rhone. 

Arthur C. Watson, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a young 
Harvard graduate and cousin of Kenneth Weeks, enlisted in the 
Foreign Legion in Paris, but by an error was sent to the First 
Regiment of the Legion in Morocco. There he was put in a 
battalion composed almost entirely of Germans, who tried to 
make life disagreeable for him. After campaigning with the 
Legion in the bled, Watson succeeded in getting transferred to 
the First Regiment of the Chasseurs d'Afrique, where by bravery 
during the fighting around Azilal he won his stripes as brigadier 
(corporal). Later he served in France with the Sixth Chasseurs 
d'Afrique, and was in the trenches in Alsace with that corps 
when the Armistice was signed. 

With the purchase of the Virgin Islands by the American 
Government, Sorenson, the lone volunteer in the Legion from 
the Danish West Indies, came under the United States flag. 
Sorenson was a former policeman at St. Thomas, and had en- 
listed in the Legion in 1914. He was buried alive by a shell ex- 
plosion during the Champagne attack of September, 1915, but 
managed to dig himself free, and apologized to the captain be- 
cause the straps of his pack were broken and he had lost his 
rifle. He conducted himself with bravery on many occasions, 
and was decorated with the Croix de Guerre. 


America Enters the War! 

John Bowe arrived at the Lyon depot in the early summer of 
1917, after having been under treatment in five different hos- 
pitals. His health was badly impaired, and he was granted an 
indefinite convalescence leave; he returned to the United States, 
where he lectured on his experiences in the French Army and 
engaged in various war propaganda work. 

Billy Thorinwas also invalided out of the Legion, with a pen- 
sion, and was allowed to return to America. He had been de- 
sperately ill with tuberculosis in the hospital, and was several 
times reported dying, but finally thought he had conquered his 

Henry Claude came to Paris on leave late in June, overstayed 
the eight days allowed him, and deserted from the Legion. Paul 
Rockwell was to blame for his desertion: whenever he met any 
of the American volunteers on leave, Rockwell always sent out 
to the boys at the front a few bottles of whiskey and packages of 
cigarettes. He gave the customary parcel to Claude the morn- 
ing before that Legionnaire was to rejoin his regiment. Claude 
went back to the hotel to get his belongings, and opened one of 
the bottles of whiskey to see if it was up to standard. 

One drink led to another, and when Claude came to his 
senses, he realized he should have left Paris several days earlier, 
and that he was already posted at his regiment as a deserter. 
His bravery at the front had wiped out the five years' suspended 
sentence he had already received at Lyon, but he knew that if 
caught he would now be court-martialled again, and that things 
would go badly for him. He made his way to Bordeaux, where 
he could get a boat back to America, and wrote Rockwell: 

'Do not think too hard of me. I was so long overdue that I 
had to do it. I am in a hell of a fix here; no money; I eat when I 
get a chance and sleep out-of-doors nights. To-night I do not 
know where I am going to sleep, and to-day I have not had a 
bite to eat. 

'I went to see the American Consul here and told him all 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

about it. He said it was impossible for him to do anything. I 
also asked him if it was possible for me to join the American 
Army here. He said it was impossible, so what am I to do ? If I 
went back to the Legion, it would go hard with me; I know it 
would. I did my bit there; now I want to join the American 
Army where I belong.' 

Claude finally got work on a boat and returned to America. 
Within two months he enlisted in the United States Army, and 
returned to France as a corporal in Battery A, Eighty-First 
Field Artillery, where he conducted himself well. 

Claude had what might be called a desertion complex. He 
confided to his comrades that he had deserted from both the 
United States Army and Navy before the war, and from the 
English Navy during the war, each time under the same circum- 
stances as when he quit the Foreign Legion. He was an ex- 
cellent and courageous soldier, and had been made a corporal in 
the Legion a short time before he deserted. His comrades at the 
front did not judge him severely for his action, though they did 
object to his consuming their whiskey. 


The United States flag, which was carried by the American 
volunteers in the Foreign Legion in August, 1914, and on which 
they had written their names, was formally presented to the 
French Government on July 4, 1917. After the death of Rene 
Phelizot in March, 191 5, the flag was returned from the hospi- 
tal at Fismes to the Americans with the Deuxieme Etranger 
around Craonnelle, and was entrusted to Robert Soubiran. It 
was brought to Paris and left there for safe-keeping, after the 
Champagne offensive in September, 1915. 

When the United States came into the war, it was decided to 
offer the flag to the French Army, and the French Minister of 
War wrote the following letter of acceptance: 


America Enters the War! 

'You have kindly offered in the name of your compatriots 
who volunteered in the Second Foreign Regiment, to give us the 
Star-Spangled Banner which has guided them in battle for 
nearly three years, to deposit it with a commemorative tablet 
in the Invalides Museum. I accept with eagerness, in the name 
of the French Army, this glorious emblem. This flag will thus 
henceforth be a striking testimony of the devotion to France of 
the American volunteers who, immediately after hostilities be- 
gan, came to fight in the ranks of our Army for right and for 

The impressive and stirring presentation ceremony took place 
in the marvellous old court of honor of the Hotel des Invalides, 
where the first American and other foreign volunteers had been 
received on August 21, 1914. All the American Legionnaires 
and aviators still in the French ranks were given special leave 
to come to Paris for the occasion, and they took their place 
alongside Marshal Joffre, President Poincare, the French Min- 
ister of War, the Commander-in-Chief of the American Ex- 
peditionary Forces, the American Ambassador, and other dig- 
nitaries and representatives of the French, American, and Allied 
Governments, in a hollow square formed by veteran French 
troops and the recently arrived vanguard of the American Ex- 
peditionary Forces. 

Dr. Samuel Watson, a well-known American clergyman in 
Paris, made the presentation speech, and first addressed the 
American Commanding General, as follows: 

'General, it is my privilege to transmit this banner on behalf 
of the first American soldiers who fought for France, our Amer- 
ican Legionnaires, who in 1914 enrolled themselves in the 
Foreign Legion to fight for France and liberty, who gave all 
they had to give, who are proud to have been the pioneers of 
that great American Army which now arrives under your lead- 
ership to take up the task they laid down. Your flag now re- 
places their flag. Therefore, their flag is now given to that great 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

treasure-house of the heart of France — the Musee des In- 

Dr. Watson then addressed himself to General Niox, Gover- 
nor of the Hotel des Invalides, and said: 

'It is for me a great honor to be the representative of my 
compatriots this day in presenting you this flag — their flag 
which they so much loved. They loved it until death. They 
loved it for what it was worth. 

'How prophetic has this banner been, the first American flag 
to float over the heads of those who fought on French soil for 
ideals represented by the Star-Spangled Banner, which have 
been the life and soul of France ! It was not permitted our brave 
men in the Legion to carry the flag openly, as the pennant of the 
chief leading his soldiers to the assault, but they carried it, 
nevertheless. One after another wore this flag draped around 
his body as a belt — the life belt of his soul. One after another 
was wounded or killed, and thus the American flag has received 
its first baptism of blood in this combat, where now it has its 
appointed place. 

'This flag was the prophecy of what has now come to pass. 
Now that the great Republic overseas comes in a body to take 
its stand where it has ever been in spirit, we render service to 
our dead comrades who died for their beloved France in asking 
you to accept this treasure for which they gave their lives. It 
also is an inspiration to the living to be worthy of these pioneers 
who preceded them along the road to eternal liberty and re- 
demption of justice.' 

President Poincare and General Niox made appropriate ad- 
dresses of acceptance, being careful not to wound the suscepti- 
bilities of the American officials present, but praising warmly 
the spirit and ideals of the American volunteers who engaged in 
the struggle against Germany while their own country was still 
neutral. The flag was then placed in the Hall of Honor of the 
great French War Museum at the Hotel des Invalides, near 


America Enters the War! 

hundreds of other battle-stained and historic banners. Later 
were ranged beside it the flags carried in August, 1914, by the 
Swiss, Norwegian, Armenian, Swedish, Italian, Ottoman, 
Dutch, Roumanian, Danish, Czech, Belgian, Luxembourger, 
Greek, Catalonian, Syrian, Polish, and Portuguese Volunteer 

Chapter XVI 


The name of Verdun had been on the lips of the Legion- 
naires for some time, as they knew by the way they were 
being drilled that an important operation was impend- 
ing in some sector or other. Christopher Charles wrote from 
Dampierre on July 26: 

'The fireworks are coming off sooner than I expected and we 
are very busy at present. We all feel pretty badly over the way 
we have been treated; have been trying hard for our transfer, 
but recently received a letter that has put me out of business 
altogether, for the War Department in Washington does not 
seem to think we are worthy of a U.S. uniform. 

'Well, I am not going to lose any sleep over that, for we have 
other things to do. Every one of the boys is going to break his 
neck in the next fight and show old Pop Wilson that we have no 
yellow streak in us. I guess it is my turn to kick the bucket this 
trip, for it is generally an old-timer that gets it each fight, and as 
Casey and I are the oldest at the front and Casey is map-maker 
at Regimental H.Q., I guess it is up to me. I don't care, but 
something I would like to know is who I am fighting for? Amer- 
ica will not have me and France does not want me. I only 
wish I could tell old Pop Wilson how I feel, but I guess it is not 
right for me to feel that way.' 

While the regiment continued its training at Dampierre, a 
precursory detachment of pioneers, telephonists, observers, and 
specialist officers was sent to the Verdun sector on August 2, to 
occupy itself with certain details and arrange for proper re- 
victualling of food and munitions during the attack, and for 



telephonic liaison with the other assault regiments. Nothing 
that could aid in assuring the success of the operation, which 
was designed to improve the French positions between Avo- 
court and Bezouville, was left to chance, and never was an at- 
tack better prepared. Petain had crowded into the sector 
twenty-four hundred guns, heavy and light, and the preliminary 
bombardment of the German positions started on August 13. 
It had already been demonstrated that a profusion of shells be- 
fore an assault meant a minimum of deaths and wounds for the 
attackers, and Petain's orders to his artillerymen were to use 
shells unsparingly. 

The Legion and the rest of the Moroccan Division left the 
region of Dampierre in auto-busses on the 12th, and moved up 
near Verdun. 

'Good-bye to our nice little village and the good little ome- 
lette I used to get every morning,' wrote Jack Moyet; 'good- 
bye to the tranquil life, good-bye civilization. When we arrive, 
after a long seven hours' run — where, we have no idea — we 
are on a road that must not be very far from the front, because 
we are forbidden to smoke. After a few minutes' rest, the cap- 
tain gives the order, "Sac au dos; par quatre; marchez!" and we 
shoulder our packs and march eight or ten kilometres, reaching 
a camp at 11.40 p.m. Before five minutes we hear two German 
shells explode — the first time for me for over a month. 

'On the 13th and 14th, complete repose. It rained, and we 
listened to the artillery preparation which seemed very strong. 
Reveille the next morning at five-thirty. To-night we are to go 
up to the trenches. Everybody is gay, nearly all the company is 
singing and laughing. During the morning we are given new 
clothes, cartridges, grenades, and everything necessary for an 
attack. At one o'clock, new orders: we are to leave to-morrow 
night, as the artillery preparation has been found insufficient.' 

The Legionnaires were told the task assigned to them: the 
capture of the ruins of Cumieres village and wood, of Goose Hill 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and Hill 265, which was crowned by a powerful fortin and is the 
culminating point of a long range of abrupt hillocks which a 
bend in the river designs on the left bank of the Meuse. 

The Legion broke camp about sundown on the evening of the 
1 8 th, and started on the long march to the trenches. Each man 
had two days' rations, including a pound of chocolate, fifteen 
biscuits, two tins of sardines and two of beef, and no overcoat or 
blankets. Christopher Charles wrote: 

'All the boys in the different companies were singing as they 
passed through the villages and, believe me, all the people 
seemed surprised to see a regiment go away to a fight singing 
after three years of war. 

'We arrived in the trenches about three o'clock on the morn- 
ing of the 19th. The Germans must have known we were com- 
ing, for they gave us a first-class welcome in the line of shells. 
We slept all through the day of the 19th, with our gas-masks on, 
as the Boches were throwing gas-shells, and about midnight we 
began preparing for the fireworks that were to start at an early 
hour of the morning. 

'We all moved up about 3 a.m. on the 20th and lay in a shal- 
low little trench between our lines and the Germans, where we 
were to await the order to go forward. I can tell you that it was 
a mighty uncomfortable position, for the Germans were bang- 
ing away at our lines and the shells were falling a little short. 
The French were doing the same thing at the German lines and 
their shells were also falling a little short, so that we were under 
two fires, and my bones certainly seemed to rattle at times. 

'At 20 to 5 the order came to go forward, and you can be sure 
we all were glad to get out of the living hell we had been under 
for nearly two hours. We got through the curtain fire pretty 
easily; the shells were burning around our feet a bit, but with a 
few quick steps we were beyond the most dangerous point. We 
got to the first German lines without any trouble and found a 
few lost Germans who did not seem to know whether they were 


V erdun 

in France or Russia, and I do not think they cared very much, 
for they had been under the bombardment for six days and were 
glad to get out of it. 

'We kept on going with a little grenade fighting here and 
there, and by seven o'clock we had gained three kilometres in 
depth and two in width. We took Cumieres or what was left of 
it, which was a few stone walls, also a wood and a hill. There we 
rested until the afternoon, for we had done some hill-climbing 
and were pretty tired out. While we were resting, I met quite a 
few of the boys: Mouvet, Moyet, and Nock, who certainly 
seemed to be looking for some sport. Later I met Philippe, who 
is a new lad, but, believe me, he looked as though he had been 
used to this game all his life. I also saw Barry and Paringfield; 
they both must have had an awful argument with some barbed 
wire and got the worst of it, judging from their clothes. 

'About four in the afternoon we started out to do a little more 
work and take a hill, which we took in an hour, and there we 
stopped for the night. During the night the Germans made 
three counter-attacks, but did not succeed.' 

Jack Moyet described his experience on the 2oth as fol- 

'Just a few minutes before "going over," a big German shell 
burst just in front of me. How I escaped I don't know; my 
haversack was completely destroyed and my rifle was covered 
with earth. A boy with me was killed, yet I was not touched. 

'With a terrible barrier fire ahead of us, over we went. It was 
so foggy we could not see three yards ahead of us. I rolled a 
cigarette, for our masks had prevented us smoking all night. 
My squad and Mouvet's lost their way after half an hour and 
we had no idea where we were. Suddenly we heard the noise of 
a machine gun in action, so we made our way in the direction 
and found ourselves at a railroad and saw some of our own men 
who told us where to find our battalion. In another five min- 
utes we found our company — in Cumieres. I had not yet seen a 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

German. There we stopped a short time, digging a little trench. 
Then on we went again, and took two woods. 

'The Germans were in retreat. My company had only one 
man killed and another slightly wounded. After two hours more 
we were relieved by another company of our regiment, and we 
went on reserve. There I met two Germans — Brandenburgers 
— who had just been taken prisoners. One could speak English 
and he told me that it was the first time he had come to the 
front. They were both musicians and were sent up because the 
Germans had no reserves. "There's a lot of difference," one 
said, "between the music of the guns and the music I have been 
used to make." 

'At three o'clock we started to advance again, my company 
the first. During our bombardment, a lot of Germans sur- 
rendered; they were all in, they told us. Our captain sent up a 
light, and we started the new advance. 

'We had a good laugh at seeing two rabbits running away in 
front of us. Our company started to run and ran so fast that 
we took in ten minutes what we were supposed to take in half 
an hour. Then each man dug himself a hole and we stopped 
there all the night, one sleeping, and one watching. I must con- 
fess that as yet I had not seen a German with a rifle.' 

The Legionnaires sang La Madelon as they took Cumieres, 
and their capture of the fortin on Hill 265 was like 'draining a 
glass of wine,' to quote an eye-witness of the attack. Generals 
Petain and de Castelnau and a group of high American officers, 
including the Commanding General, were interested spectators 
of the latter operation. 

'One would believe we were watching a fine manoeuvre at a 
camp in the interior/ said General Petain admiringly to the 
other officers. 

General Petain decided to ask the Legion, still hot and en- 
thused from its success, to take Regneville, an operation at first 
contemplated for a later date. Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet ac- 



cepted the proposition with eagerness, and how it was carried 
out was described in a few words by Machine-Gunner Charles: 

'We were pretty lazy on the 21st and did not start forward 
until the afternoon, when we were told to take a village. Our 
seventy-fives kept a barrage just ahead of us as we advanced. 
Barry must have seen a rum shop, for he was in an awful hurry 
to get into the town, and was hit by a piece of shell. Some of 
our sections had a lot of grenade fighting in the boyaux, but by 
nightfall we had captured Regneville and a number of prisoners. 

'In a dugout we found a badly wounded German who had 
been there for three days. He lay cursing his comrades for steal- 
ing his watch and money and leaving him to die. We sent him 
back to a stretcher-bearers' post. 

'We pushed on about five hundred metres farther and there 
the fight ended. We installed ourselves in the orchards over- 
looking the Meuse beyond the village, and worked all night long 
putting the position in shape to be defended should the Ger- 
mans counter-attack. 

'We had a nice party in a shell-hole with German wine and 
jam, and under our tent covers we smoked a few cigars which 
the Boches forgot in their hurry to get away. 

'Once more Wilson's unworthy citizens proved their worth, 
in the most famous battle sector in France. Corporal Guy 
Agostini met a brave death in an heroic manner. After two days 
of hard fighting, he died trying to save two comrades of his 
section. Two of his grenadiers were battling against some Ger- 
mans, when the latter rushed the two boys, who both fell 

'Corporal Agostini, who was a little in the rear, rushed for- 
ward and brought back one of the boys to shelter. He returned 
for the second, but found him dead. Just as he arrived at our 
trench with the body, a large shell burst, and Agostini was hit 
in the temple and instantly killed. 

'Our little friend Blount also did some fine work; he took thirty 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

prisoners single-handed, but could not continue his work, as he 
was slightly wounded. 

'Ivan Nock and Marius Philippe were both wounded and 
gassed by the same shell explosion; they were taken away to 
the hospital, but are not in a dangerous condition. Barry's 
wound is not serious either. Jack Noe was slightly wounded the 
first day of the attack, just enough to get a good rest in the 
hospital. Sartoris fell ill just before the attack, and was taken 
to the infirmary protesting that he would be back in the ranks 
in a few days.' 

The capture of Regneville, where the Legionnaires found four 
heavy cannon the surprised Germans had not had time to re- 
move, was the last act of the 191 7 battle of Verdun. The Legion 
had taken six hundred and eighty prisoners, including twenty 
officers and forty-three under-officers, belonging to four differ- 
ent regiments, fifteen German cannon and thirteen machine 
guns, with a vast quantity of material, and had recaptured a 
heavy French marine gun. The losses of the regiment were 
smaller than in any previous battle, less than four hundred men 
killed and wounded. 

The total number of prisoners made by the French was 
ninety-one hundred, with thirty guns and twenty-two mine- 
throwers. The German pressure on Verdun was permanently 
relieved by the victory. 

The Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion was men- 
tioned for the sixth time in the Order of the Army, The cita- 
tion was signed by General Guillaumet and read: 

On August 20, 1917, under the energetic leadership of its chief, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet, threw itself forward to assault a village 
and a wood, both of which were powerfully organized. Despite the 
difficulties and the lie of the land, it captured the position with such 
dash that, notwithstanding our own barriers of artillery fire, the Le- 
gion passed beyond the final objective which had been assigned to it 
nearly three kilometres from the point of departure. 



Undertaking immediately a new operation which had been fixed for 
a later date and in an entirely different direction, this corps gave proof 
of its fine manoeuvring qualities by making itself master of a series of 
heights and then of a village which the enemy had previously taken at 
heavy sacrifice. The Legion thus assured possession of two and a half 
kilometres of front and captured six hundred and eighty prisoners 
with many cannon and machine guns. 

Nick Karayinis was decorated with the Medaille Militaire, 
accompanied by a third citation in Army Orders: 

An active Legionnaire and an elite grenadier. August 20, 1917, won 
the admiration of every one by his courage and his contempt for dan- 
ger, leading his crew to the conquest of a trench which was defended 
with energy, and which was captured along a length of fifteen hun- 
dred metres after several hours of desperate combat. He took numer- 
ous prisoners. Already twice cited in the Order of the Day. 

Ivan Nock won his second citation, which said: 

A Legionnaire with motives of the highest type, he is a grenadier 
possessing superb contempt for danger. Taking part August 21, 1917, 
in a perilous scouting expedition, he protected with audacity the pro- 
gress of this reconnaissance, and was wounded in the course of the 

Christopher Charles was mentioned as 'a brave, courageous 
soldier and excellent machine-gunner; he distinguished himself 
in Champagne, 1915; at the Somme, 1916; at Verdun, August, 
1 917, by the indirect fire of his piece held back the enemy reen- 
forcements. Has been wounded once.' 

Oscar Mouvet was cited and proposed for a corporalship, and 
Richard Blount and Jack Moyet were awarded the Croix de 
Guerre. William Paringfield was promised a citation on the 
battlefield, but his chief, Lieutenant Benoit, was killed a few 
hours later, the only Legion officer slain during the action. 

The Legionnaires remained two weeks in the conquered posi- 
tions, putting the trenches and defenses in good condition, and 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

strengthening the line which was now stabilized on the left 
bank of the Meuse. The kitchens were established under the 
banks of the old railroad, as near as possible to the trenches. 
Outposts and patrols kept up small but continual combats 
with the Germans, who had hastily thrown into the sector 
seven fresh divisions, for fear of further advances by the 

The Legion was relieved on September 4, and moved back to 
the region of Rampont. Jack Moyet said: 'When we saw the 
"Blue Devils" (Alpine Chasseurs) coming to relieve us, we 
certainly felt happy, for we were black as niggers and full of 
lice. During all the attack the food was very bad; we had rice 
three times, potatoes once, macaroni four times, and the rest of 
the time, beans. We were about all in, and the Germans had 
been bombarding our position every day.' 

Christopher Charles commented on the Verdun battlefield: 
'Although I had heard so much about this famous sector and 
felt pretty shaky when we were told we were to go there, I now 
think I had rather go into a fight here than anywhere else in 
France, for we certainly had the guns behind us this time. The 
bombardment was perfect and the best we ever had. There was 
not a bit of ground which we took that had not been swept by a 
shell. As late as eight days after the battle there were Germans 
who dug themselves out of underground passages and gave 
themselves up.' 

German aviators came over and bombed the military hospi- 
tal at Vadelincourt, where many of the wounded Legionnaires 
were under treatment. The wooden buildings were set on fire, 
and as the panic-stricken soldiers fled from their flaming beds, 
the enemy airmen swooped down and machine-gunned them, 
and killed many of them and their nurses. 

Algernon Sartoris rejoined his regiment, and when he learned 
of the death of Guy Agostini, who had been his corporal, he 
wrote: 'I wish that every American soldier who is coming to 



France could know of the gallant death of Agostini. He was a 
quiet and most worthy youth. His prophecy on receiving the 
Croix de Guerre after Auberive was: "My next cross will be a 
wooden one." He was a pure idealist and a brave soldier.' 

While the American Legionnaires were aiding in the cap- 
ture of Cumieres and Regneville, their old comrade John 
Cordonnier was fighting not far away from them. His regi- 
ment, the One Hundred and Sixty-Third Line Infantry, cap- 
tured on August 20 the much-fought-for, sinister Dead Man's 

'We attacked and carried a bad line of German trenches on 
Dead Man's Hill,' the laconic Cordonnier wrote. 'My bat- 
talion alone captured one hundred and twenty prisoners. It 
was a hard fight, but we lost remarkably few men.' 

The brilliant victory at Verdun completely restored the 
morale of the entire French Army, only a small portion of which 
had ever been affected by the wave of pessimism following the 
premature ending of the spring offensive, and revived in the 
civilian population confidence in a final victory. 


The Legion went into camp at Bois 1'Eveque, along with the 
other regiments of the Moroccan Division, which was now com- 
manded by General Daugan, as its former chief, General De- 
goutte, had been promoted commander of an army corps. To 
break the monotony of drill and manoeuvre, there was a series 
of football matches and field-sports contests between teams 
from the different regiments. William Paringfield won first 
place in the long and short distance foot-races between the 

General Petain, Commander-in-Chief of the French Armies, 
and General Gerard, commander of an army, passed the troops 
of the Moroccan Division in review on September 27, and Gen- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

eral Petain decorated the flag of the Regiment de Marche de la 
Legion Etrangere with the Cross of the Legion of Honor, ac- 
companied by the following citation: 

A marvellous regiment which is animated by hatred for the enemy 
and the very highest spirit of sacrifice. 

In Artois, May 9, 191 5, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Cot, 
threw itself forward to the assault of the Ouvrages Blancs, breaking 
through with a single blow all the enemy organizations, carrying Hill 
140, pushing on to Carency and Souchez. 

In Champagne, September 25, 191 5, under the orders first of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Lecomte-Denis, then of Commandant Rozet, con- 
quered the Wagram work, north of Souain. 

September 28, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Cot, tri- 
umphed over a powerful organization and, pushing on to the trenches 
and wood of Navarin Farm, captured them. 

In the Somme, July 4, 1916, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Cot, after having crossed an open and exposed space of eight hundred 
metres, swept by mitrailleuses, conquered with the bayonet Belloy- 
en-Santerre and kept it, despite an intense bombardment, against the 
violent and repeated efforts of the enemy. 

In Champagne, before the hillocks of Moron villiers, April 17, 1917, 
under the orders first of Lieutenant-Colonel Duriez, then of Com- 
mandant Deville, launched itself forward to the attack of a resolute 
enemy, three times superior in number. By a hand-to-hand combat, 
uninterrupted during five days and five nights, carried the trenches of 
the Gulf and contributed to making the enemy evacuate the village 
of Auberive by taking it from behind. 

At Verdun, August 20, 1917, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Rollet, captured the village of Cumieres and its wood, with such dash 
that it passed beyond the final objective assigned to it. It then ren- 
dered itself master of Goose Hill and of Regneville. 

The French Government had recently passed a law making it 
possible for private soldiers, corporals, and non-commissioned 
officers to win by extraordinary feats of arms and heroism on 
the battlefield the Cross of the Legion of Honor, a medal 


V erdun 

hitherto reserved solely for officers. General Petain decorated 
with the medal three Spanish corporals of the Legion. 

Christopher Charles wrote concerning the review: 

'To-day was one more great day for the Legion, for we were 
given the highest honor that a regiment could receive. The 
Commander-in-Chief gave our flag the Legion of Honor for the 
good work we did for fifteen days in the rain and mud in one of 
the most famous sectors in France. We are the first regiment in 
France to have won the Legion of Honor and I can assure you 
all the boys who suffered through the battle are mighty proud 
of what the Commander-in-Chief said to them to-day. 

'He said that we have been a perfect whirlwind regiment in 
carrying off honors and that we were so far advanced in honors 
that the fourragere which has not yet been made has been won. 
That is the one the color of the Legion of Honor. He said that 
if we still kept up this good work, he would be obliged to give 
us the Legion of Honor in its highest merits. 

'All the Division was present at the review and the regi- 
ments certainly looked fine. When General Petain came there 
were at least twenty aeroplanes flying over the Division. 

'Moyet received his War Cross to-day. He certainly de- 
served it for all his good work.' 

The regiment was strengthened in October by the arrival of 
the remnants of the battalion which had been sent to the Dar- 
danelles in March, 191 5, under the orders of Commandant 
Geay. This battalion had made history in the Near East. Its 
losses had been terrific, and among the wounded were Corporal 
Didier, the Moor, and Zannis, the Constantinople Greek, of the 
original American squad of the Premier Etranger, who had vol- 
unteered for service in the Near East. 

The entire Moroccan Division went into the trenches around 
Flirey, in Lorraine, on October 3. Ivan Nock wrote: 'The sec- 
tor was calm, but with the advent of the Division Marocaine has 
lost its tranquillity, as might have been expected.' 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The Germans started an incessant bombardment with gas 
and shrapnel shells, and harried the French lines by indirect 
machine-gun fire. There was a constant patrol warfare in the 
Mortmare Wood and in the immense mine craters, relics of 
former bitter struggles. Coups de main were executed on both 
sides, one after another, and the sector became a very animated 
one. Cold, rainy weather set in, a presage of the fourth miser- 
able winter in the trenches. Christopher Charles wrote: 

'We are in the trenches where we expect to be for eighteen 
days. The most unpleasant thing is the weather, for there is 
nothing that bothers us more than the rain. We have a fine 
cabin and have a bright fire burning all night long, so that when 
we are called to go on sentry duty we certainly start growling. 
To leave a nice, warm spot and go out and wade through the 
boyau for three hundred metres in water and mud to where our 
machine gun is, and then have to stand out there in the rain for 
hours, puts us all in an unpleasant humor. Three of us are 
nursing swollen jaws from running into a turn in the boyau and 
we all will be pleased when this weather clears up a bit. 

'As far as shelling is concerned, a shell drops over once in a 
while, and it seems like being lost in the wilderness after a place 
like Verdun.' 

Algernon Sartoris made his first trip to the firing line. He 
was given a job as donkey-boy and water-carrier for his bat- 
talion; there was no drinking-water to be had near the trenches, 
and the Legionnaires were supplied from wells several kilo- 
metres in the rear of the lines. Sartoris was put in charge of 
three small donkeys and twice every twenty-four hours — once 
by day and once by night — he loaded the beasts with water- 
bags and led them through the communication trenches up to 
where his comrades were on guard in the front-line positions. 

'We try to poke fun at him,' wrote Machine-Gunner Charles, 
'but he takes everything lightly and we certainly have to ad- 
mire him, He says.that he likes the job. Lately he has given up 



drinking; I never thought that he could, but he is making good 
and I am pleased, for I like the old lad.' 

Richard Blount was wounded in the arm by a bit of shrapnel 
during one of the daily bombardments, and taken away to the 
hospital from which he had but recently been discharged after 
his Verdun wound. 

A new fourragere, red — the color of the Legion of Honor — 
was created especially for the Legion ' because of its brilliant 
exploits in the course of the campaign,' and was conferred on 
the corps on November 3, with an Army Order signed by Gen- 
eral Petain. The Legionnaires were immensely proud of this 
further recognition of their courage and merit, and were more 
than ever ready to attempt any feat asked of them by the 
French High Command. Ivan Nock wrote: ' I would really pre- 
fer to stay in the Legion. I'm pretty sure no U.S. regiment will 
ever be as distinguished as the Legion Etr anger e. Besides, I'm 
beginning to think I'm a Frenchman. My aunt wrote me the 
other day saying, "You French have done such splendid things, 

yy j 

etc., etc. 

William Paringfield changed to a machine-gun company; he 
had been very disappointed not to get the Croix de Guerre after 
the Verdun battle, and hoped to get a better chance to distin- 
guish himself in his new post. He went back behind the lines for 
a short course of instruction as machine-gunner, and immedi- 
ately after returning to the firing trenches volunteered to go out 
on a coup de main. These coups had become very dangerous; 
the enemy artillery always kept silent during the French pre- 
liminary bombardment, but started a hellish barrage fire as 
soon as the attacking infantry left their shelters. It was the 
custom throughout the French Army to award the Croix de 
Guerre to all the participants in a coup de main whenever prison- 
ers were brought back into the trenches. 

Paringfield and a small band of picked men went out on a 
coup de main after dark on November 10. Just as they jumped 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

into the enemy trenches, the young American was hit in the 
stomach by several shell-splinters. He was taken back to the 
field hospital, and died there the following day. His last hours 
were happy, in spite of his agony: Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet 
came to his bedside and decorated him with the Medaille Mili- 
taire and the Croix de Guerre, with an exceptionally beautiful 
citation, which read: 

Enlisted voluntarily for the duration of the war. A volunteer for 
the execution of a coup de main, he rushed forward into the enemy 
trenches with great intrepidity. Having been very grievously 
wounded, he preoccupied himself only with the success of the opera- 
tion, declaring with gayety: 'There are some prisoners, all is well.' 
Died from his wounds. 

Paringfield was one of the youngest volunteers in the Foreign 
Legion. He was born in Butte, Montana, on December 22, 
1897; and had travelled extensively with his parents, who were 
in the theatrical business. At one time he lived in China for 
several months. He was beloved by his fellow Legionnaires as a 
cheerful little comrade and a brave fighter. 

Theodore Haas volunteered for the coup de main along with 
Paringfield, and won his second citation in the Order of the 

A brave and resolute Legionnaire. He distinguished himself by his 
ardor and sang-froid during the coup de main on November 10, 1917. 

O. L. McLellan, Garrett Foley, and Walter Pierce arrived 
from La Valbonne with a detachment of reinforcements. 'Mc- 
Lellan marched as sturdily as the best of us,' to quote Chris- 
topher Charles, but he fell ill from exposure, and was forced to 
return to the depot at Lyon. Foley shot himself in the shoulder 
while on guard at night, and was taken away to the hospital. 

Pierce deserted after a few days in the trenches, but was 
caught by gendarmes as he was en route to Paris, and brought 
back to the front. He was court-martialled, and claimed that a 



captain in the United States Army had induced him to desert 
by promising to arrange everything for him with the Legion and 
get him into the American Army. Sentence was suspended, and 
Pierce was sent back to the trenches. He deserted again, and 
this time was returned to the Legion from a training camp of the 
American Expeditionary Forces, where he had taken refuge, by 
American military policemen. 

Pierce was court-martialled for the second time. His attitude 
before the court was very disagreeable, and his defense did not 
ring true; he was sentenced to five years' hard labor, and sent 
away to a penal battalion in Northern Africa. 

Charles Trinkard had received his brevet as an aeroplane pilot 
on July 24, 1 917, and joined the Escadrille N. 68 at the front on 
September 1. His aviation field was near Toul, and not a great 
distance from the village where the Legion went for repose, so 
that he was able to see his former comrades from time to time. 
Trinkard was very anxious to distinguish himself as an aviator, 
and never missed an opportunity to go on air patrol, but there 
was not a great deal of aerial activity in his sector. 

Jack Casey, Christopher Charles, Alfred Bustillos, Sartoris, 
and a number of other Legionnaires were talking together in the 
street of a village behind the lines on the morning of Thanks- 
giving Day, November 29, when they saw three French aero- 
planes looping the loop and doing other aerial acrobatics over 
their heads. Suddenly one of the machines wing-slipped while 
making a vertical turn, and not having sufficient altitude 
crashed into the ground and was completely wrecked. 

The Legionnaires rushed forward and pulled the pilot, who 
was already dead, from the wreckage. 

'It was Trinkard,' wrote Charles. 'His spine and both legs 
were broken, and he must have died instantly from the shock. 
He was wearing a khaki uniform and the Legion's red fourragere. 
The first men to reach the wrecked machine did not know who 
had fallen, but when they recognized by the distinctive deco- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ration of our corps that one of their comrades was dead, they 
were mightily grieved. All the American volunteers are feeling 
especially sad, for Trinkard was a fine lad and had done great 
work in the Legion. It seems a shame that a boy who had been 
through so many battles and had suffered so much should die 
by such an accident. Trinkard did more than his duty in this 
war, and did it cheerfully. It is with sad hearts that we will 
attend his funeral on Saturday.' 

Trinkard had known that his old comrades were stationed in 
the village, and was saluting them by his aerial antics, as was 
often done by aviators. His body was taken back to his avia- 
tion field, and buried in the cemetery there, after an imposing 
military funeral. Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet delegated eight of 
the dead aviator's former comrades to represent the Legion at 
the sad ceremony, and Oscar Mouvet took up a collection in 
Trinkard's former battalion for a wreath. Two small American 
flags were put in Trinkard's coffin and a large one over his 
grave, by the American Legionnaires. 

I The Germans tried a surprise coup de main against the Le- 
gionnaires on December 3. At eight o'clock on a bitter cold 
morning, after a preparatory bombardment of only fifteen 
minutes, forty picked Stosstruppen rushed across No-Man 's- 
Land and tried to break into an advanced Legion trench. Six of 
the attackers got back to their own lines alive; one was made 
prisoner; and the others were left hanging dead or wounded in 
the barbed-wire entanglements. 

'The Boches certainly must be crazy to try to get away with 
that stuff at eight in the morning,' commented Christopher 
Charles, whose machine gun was partly responsible for the fail- 
ure of the German trench raid. 

1 Oscar Mouvet was slightly wounded in the face by a shell- 
splinter on December 8; Jack Moyet fell ill with pneumonia 
from exposure in the water-filled trenches, and it began to look 
as though there would be no American Legionnaires left to don 



their national uniform, should the United States Army decide 
to take them over. 

Ivan Nock wrote from the trenches on December 15: 'Re- 
turning permissionnaires tell us that "a Farriere on tient bon" 
(in the rear they are holding their own), which, of course, is a 
comfort. Poor civilians! They do make so much mauvais sang 
over the war that they are a source of worry to us. Hence the 
comfort in knowing they " tiennent bony Seriously, one must 
come to the front — the real front — to find a decent morale.' 

The civilians were 'holding their own' because the Radical 
Socialist Cabinet, which had been losing the war for France, 
was overthrown on November 13, and Georges Clemenceau was 
made Prime Minister. Clemenceau at once assumed dictato- 
rial powers; he surrounded himself with Ministers of undoubted 
patriotism, declared 'we have one sole, simple duty, to stand 
fast with the soldier; to live, suffer and fight with him,' and set 
about cleaning out the Augean Stables of the Paris political and 
journalistic world. He pressed the treason charges against 
Caillaux, former Minister of the Interior Malvy, who was sur- 
rounded with spies and traitors and had allowed pacifist and 
pro-German campaigns to be waged openly throughout France; 
Senator Humbert, an ex-waiter in cheap cafes who had risen to 
political power; the mysterious Bolo Pacha, and numerous 
Deputies and others whose activities on behalf of Germany had 
been more than suspicious. 

Public opinion in France supported Clemenceau in his de- 
termination to win the war, and the morale of the entire coun- 
try improved steadily from the day he came into power. The 
men at the front faced the horrors of another winter campaign 
with all the more fortitude because they now knew that the 
Government in Paris was wholly supporting them. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 


Ever since the arrival in France of American troops contin- 
uous efforts had been made by their friends in Paris and else- 
where to get the American Legionnaires accepted for service by 
the United States military authorities. Among others, General 
Frank Parker, who as Military Attache in Paris had known and 
appreciated most of the American Legionnaires and aviators, 
put in a good word to push their transfer, while Paul Rockwell 
wrote in the 'Chicago Daily News' and its associated news- 

'I wish to call especial attention to the attitude of the United 
States War Department toward the American volunteers in the 
Legion. Of the several score boys from the United States who 
have fought during the war in the Legion, only about ten are 
left active at the front. Virtually every one of them has been 
decorated with the French War Cross for courage and devotion. 

'As soon as their own country severed relations with Ger- 
many, these courageous American boys wrote directly to Presi- 
dent Wilson and to various other State and Army officials offer- 
ing their trained services to the United States Army. Some of 
them came to Paris on leave and spoke with members of the 
American Military Mission and to various persons at the United 
States Embassy here, without getting any satisfaction either by 
word or by writing. Not one bit of official attention has been 
paid by the United States Government to these brave Ameri- 
can soldiers, who have been so often honored by France. Yet 
at the present writing the United States War Department is 
preparing to take over from the French military authorities the 
American aviators — trained at great expense by France — 
who form part of the Lafayette Escadrille. 

'Doubtless, the United States Army is in more urgent need of 
trained war fliers than of trained infantrymen, but I am confi- 
dent that the general American public wishes to see justice done 



and will urge that the Legionnaires get the same opportunity as 
the aviators to fight under their own flag. Many of the Lafay- 
ette airmen began their war careers as Legionnaires, and both 
in the trenches and in the air the volunteer fighters now in 
France have done and are doing well their duty against the 
Huns. Virtually all the men are content to serve until the war's 
end under the French tricolor, but they feel that they would be 
of more real use — in view of their long experience in this war — 
if put with their less war-hardened countrymen. 

'Practically every deserter and "quitter" from the Foreign 
Legion and the French and British Flying Corps, who has re- 
turned to America, has, according to United States newspaper 
reports, met with a great reception and has been hailed as a 
hero. Some have even been made officers in the United States 
Army, it is said. No one seems to have thought to inquire how 
it happened that, being so valorous and of such great service to 
the Allied armies, these men found it so easy to be permitted 
to return home. 

'This is not intended for muck-raking, but is merely a plea 
that just attention be paid to a little group of meritorious 

The First Division of the United States Army was encamped 
not far behind the Flirey sector, training and preparing to go 
into the trenches, and the American Legionnaires visited their 
fellow countrymen whenever the occasion presented itself. On 
New Year's Day, 191 8, Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet gave them 
three days' leave to go over to the American camp and take 
the physical examination for the United States Army, and told 
them it was now only a question of days before they would be 
transferred from the Legion to their own national service. 
Bustillos and Philippe were away with a detachment of men 
building barracks, and Noe had been detached as telephone 
wire-layer to the Engineers' Corps of the Moroccan Division, so 
did not take the examination, which was passed successfully by 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion^ 

their comrades. Christopher Charles wrote that he and his 
comrades were ' treated right by the boys at the U.S. camp, and 
once more had a real good old New Year. However,' he con- 
tinued, 'in the three days that I was there, I can now see that I 
will regret the Legion quite a bit and that I will not find life all 
sunshine with my own boys.' 

The Germans attempted another trench raid against the 
Legion on January 5, which failed as piteously as that on Dec- 
ember 3. The French High Commander had decided since 
some time that the enemy works in Mortmare Wood and the 
Renard salient, from which most of the coups de main started, 
must be destroyed. A large-scale raid was planned, and when 
volunteers were called for, virtually every Legionnaire offered 

Aviators photographed the region of the projected attack; 
the officers and men selected for the operations were given maps 
showing exactly what point in the German line they must carry, 
and the affair was carefully rehearsed time after time. 

On January 8 the enemy position was subjected to four hours' 
intense bombardment, the machine-gun nests and battery em- 
placements spotted by the aviators were knocked to pieces, and 
at 2.50 p.m. the picked Legionnaires, supported by Algerian 
tirailleurs, left their shelters, crossed No-Man 's-Land at a 
rapid trot, and sprang into the German trenches. The dazed 
Teutons offered little resistance; they were surprised, as they 
had not expected an attack because of the cold and deep snow. 

In some places the raiders penetrated almost a kilometre into 
the enemy lines. They completely cleared out the first- and 
second-line trenches, blew up all the shelters and burned the 
cabins in the wood, and accomplished damage that it took the 
Germans over three months to repair. After a visit of two hours, 



the attackers retired into their own lines, taking with them one 
hundred and ten prisoners, including eighteen non-commis- 
sioned officers, a number of machine guns and mine-throwers, 
much ammunition and other supplies. 

'This fine example of a trench raid was executed with that 
mastery which makes of the Legion an incomparable instru- 
ment of war without equivalent in any of the armies now oper- 
ating,' said Colonel Mittelhauser, the Alsatian Commander of 
the Brigade to which the Legion belonged, in an Order of the 
Day. The raiders lost but six men killed, and a handful 

Among the latter was Ivan Nock, the only American to go on 
the raid. Just as he reached the German trenches his right arm 
was torn off near the shoulder by a shell. 

'Don't bother about me. Carry on the raid, and pick me up 
on the way home,' he told his comrades who halted by his side. 

For almost two hours Nock lay bleeding in the snow; then he 
was carried back to the Legion's field hospital. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Rollet hastened to the brave boy's side and pinned on 
his chest the Medaille Militaire, and Medecin-Chef Azam and 
the other surgeons did all they could to save him. However, too 
much of his life blood had ebbed away as he waited for his com- 
rades to finish their work of destruction in the enemy lines, and 
on the afternoon of January 9 gallant Ivan Nock breathed his 
last. The entire Legion mourned him as one of the bravest of 
the brave. A last citation in the Order of the Day paid homage 
to him as 'an excellent grenadier; grievously wounded January 
8, 1 91 8, as he rushed upon the enemy lines under a violent 
barrage fire. Died as a result of his wounds.' 

Nock's adjudant-chef, Henri Sapene, an Argentine, wrote: 

' I am the first to regret that Nock has been given so colorless 
a citation. As a soldier, I knew him better than any one else, 
for at Auberive, at Verdun, and at the trench raid of January 8, 
he was always under my orders. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

'With men such as him, one could accomplish the impossible. 

'As good a comrade as he was a brave soldier, he has left only 
regrets at the Tenth Company.' 

Edgar Bouligny wrote from Macedonia: * 

'What a great pity that Nock has met his fate! He never 
should have participated in that coup de main\ in a few days he 
would have transferred to the United States Army and with our 
boys would have rendered great service, and no doubt would 
have won a commission in short time. 

• 'Nock was an exceptionally brave man. At Lassigny in 
August, 191 6, he was in my company and I had a chance to 
watch him closely. Only two days after his arrival in the 
trenches we were heavily shelled by the Boches. Nock was 
occupying a salient petit poste, and during the whole of the fire- 
works display he did not show the least emotion. On the con- 
trary, he seemed to enjoy the sport. Afterwards he was always 
mixed up in patrols, etc. I always knew him to be resourceful, 
and no old-timer had any thing on him.' 

The Germans were not long in replying to the Legion's de- 
structive coup de main. All the day of January 12 they liter- 
ally smothered the Legion's positions with an avalanche of 
heavy shells, followed by thousands of gas-shells, and provi- 
sionally put hors de combat the Regimental Headquarters and 
two companies of Legionnaires. Only one man was killed how- 
ever, Second Lieutenant Granacher, a Swiss who volunteered 
in August, 1914, and had won his rank by bravery in action. 

The American Legionnaires did not undergo the frightful 
bombardment. The day following Nock's funeral the order 
finally came liberating them from the French service, and they 
transferred without delay to the United States Army. They 
left their honored corps with regret, and Algernon Sartoris 
voiced the sentiments of his comrades when he said: 'I shall 
never see the uniform of the Legion without a thrill of pride and 
a quickened beating of the heart.'. 

Chapter XVII 


By the time the United States entered the war against 
Germany, the Lafayette Escadrille was famous the 
world over, and its glorious reputation inspired numer- 
ous young Americans to come to France and enlist in the French 
Aviation. In 191 4, only one American citizen, Raoul Lufbery, 
went directly into the French Aviation Service without first 
serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion; in 191 5, there were 
eight; in 1916, there were thirty-two; and in 191 7, up until 
August 4, when the French stopped accepting American volun- 
teers for the Air Service, there were one hundred and forty- 

As the Lafayette Escadrille, like all the French squadrons, 
was limited to from twelve to fifteen pilots, the later volunteer 
aviators, after they finished their training at the schools were 
dispersed among French pursuit, bombardment, and observa- 
tion escadrilles all along the front. All told, only thirty-eight 
American pilots and four French officers were ever on the rolls 
of the Lafayette Escadrille. 

During 1917, the Lafayette Escadrille moved up and down 
the front wherever the fighting was fiercest, and rendered 
splendid service over the Somme, Oise, Aisne, Flanders, Ver- 
dun, and Champagne sectors. In the early spring William 
Thaw won his fourth citation in Army Orders, which read: 

An excellent pilot. Returned to the front after recovery from a 
grave wound, he does not cease to give an example of courage and 
spirit. During the German retreat he gave proof of intelligent initia- 
tive in landing near the marching elements, to communicate to them 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

information he had gathered concerning the enemy by flying at a low 
altitude and thanks to which surprises were avoided. April 28 he de- 
stroyed his second enemy aeroplane. 

Frederick Zinn flew with an observation squadron, the F. 24, 
and was decorated with the Croix de Guerre with the following 

An American volunteer in the Deuxieme Eiranger, participated in 
all the operations of that corps from August, 1914, to October, 191 5. 
Painfully wounded and passed into the Aviation as observer, he im- 
mediately made himself remarked by his sang-froid, his daring, and 
his contempt of danger. Has furnished since April 10, often without 
protection, a great number of distant photographic reconnaissances 
which he has always carried out successfully, in spite of artillery fire 
and attacks by enemy aeroplanes. 

Zinn was promoted sergeant, and in the summer of 1917 won 
another citation in Army Orders, which again spoke of his work 
as a photographic observer, and stated that he 'always distin- 
guished himself by his great bravery and his sang-froid.' 

Chatkoff fell ill from exposure in the trenches with the Legion, 
and when he left the hospital went to the front as pilot with the 
C. 1 1 Escadrille. He there won the Croix de Guerre, with this 

Delivered from May 12 to June 9, 1917, more than ten combats 
during which he gave proof of great qualities of courage, of skill, and 
of sang-froid. June 4, he attacked successfully, in the course of the 
same flight, two groups of three and four enemy aeroplanes. Had his 
aeroplane hit by six bullets and by numerous shell fragments. 

Chatkoff's squadron was stationed in the Aisne sector, not far 
from the aviation field of the Lafayette Escadrille at Chaudun, 
on the plateau above Soissons, from whence the pilot flew on 
patrols above the Chemin-des-Dames battlefield, where aerial 
activity was intense during the entire summer of 191 7. Chat- 
koff often flew over to Chaudun and visited the Americans 



there, whenever he had a little freedom from duty over the 
lines. He came over in his Caudron two-seater on June 15, and, 
after lunching with the Lafayette pilots, took a young war 
worker, Benjamin Woodworth, up for a flight. 

When he got up to about three hundred feet altitude over the 
field, Chatkoff started doing 'stunt' flying in his heavy plane, 
to give his passenger a thrill and show the men on the ground his 
skill as a pilot. As he looped and twisted and turned his ma- 
chine in the air, many of the pilots below turned their backs on 
the scene, saying they could not endure watching the perform- 

Suddenly Chatkoff lost control of his machine, and it dipped 
rapidly towards the ground from a height of less than two hun- 
dred feet. The horror-stricken spectators saw Chatkoff strug- 
gle wildly to right the aeroplane; his efforts were fruitless, and 
with full motor on, the machine crashed into the earth and 
crumpled up like straw. 

Woodworth, who had wanted to become an aviator and had 
been refused permission by his parents, was killed outright, cut 
in two at the waist, and Chatkoff was picked out of the wreck- 
age more dead than alive. He had serious wounds all over the 
head and body, and many bones broken. He recovered con- 
sciousness for a minute as he was being carried away to the 
hospital, and made a ghastly attempt to smile. He was tre- 
panned, and his entire body and limbs put into plaster casts. 
For weeks it was thought that he could not recover, but his life 
was finally saved, although he stayed in hospitals almost to the 
end of the war, and was left with his mind permanently im- 

By the month of August, 1917, the Lafayette Escadrille had 
had nine pilots killed and five wounded; its members had won 
four Crosses of the Legion d'Honneur, seven Medailles MM- 
taires, and thirty-one citations in the Order of the Day, each 
citation accompanied by the Croix de Guerre, or an additional 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

palm for the ribbon, if the pilot cited had already received the 
medal. On August 15, the Squadron was cited in Army Orders 
by Commander-in-Chief Petain, as follows: 

An escadrille composed of American volunteers, come to fight for 
France with the very purest spirit of sacrifice. 

It has led without cessation, under the command of Captain The- 
nault, who formed it, an ardent struggle against our enemies. 

In very hard combats and at the price of losses which, far from 
weakening, have exalted, its morale, it has destroyed twenty-eight 
adversary aeroplanes. 

It has excited the profound admiration of the chiefs who have had 
it under their orders and of the French escadrilles who, fighting by its 
side, have wished to rival it in valor. 

Much outside pressure was brought to bear on the pilots of 
the Lafayette Escadrille and those serving with other French 
squadrons, to induce them to offer their services to the United 
States. They were ready and willing to serve their own land, 
but many of them felt that they owed a certain debt to France, 
which had spent an average sum of ten thousand dollars per 
man to train them as flyers, and they had become greatly at- 
tached to their French comrades. They were also surprised at 
the slowness with which an American army was being formed to 
fight the Germans, and considered that they could best render 
service to the Allied cause by remaining where they were until 
the United States Aviation was ready to take its place at the 
front in France. 

After months of reflection and discussion, the pilots of the 
Lafayette Escadrille decided in the fall of 191 7 to offer their 
services as a unit to their own Government. There followed con- 
siderable delay and red tape on the part of the American au- 
thorities, then the Escadrille on February 18, 191 8, was taken 
over by the United States Air Service, of which it became the 
One Hundred and Third Pursuit Squadron. As there were no 
other American squadrons ready for service, it remained at the 



front, attached to the French Groupe de Combat 15, under the 
command of William Thaw. 

All the Lafayette Escadrille pilots received commissions in 
the United States Air Service. Raoul Lufbery and William 
Thaw became majors; Robert Soubiran was made a captain, 
and William Dugan a first lieutenant. By the early summer of 
191 8, most of them were scattered among the new American 
squadrons as commanding officers and flight leaders. William 
Thaw took command of the Third Pursuit Group, destroyed 
several German aeroplanes and observation balloons, won four 
more citations in French and American Army Orders, was de- 
corated with the Distinguished Service Cross with Bronze Oak 
Leaf, made an officer of the Legion of Honor, and ended the 
war a lieutenant-colonel. 

Raoul Lufbery was attached to the First Pursuit Group, and 
was killed in aerial combat near Toul on May 19, 191 8. He was 
America's greatest 'ace' aviator, and had destroyed over forty 
German aeroplanes; only seventeen of his victories were offi- 
cially confirmed, as most of his combats took place too far be- 
hind the enemy lines for the result to be seen by the French 
Army observers. Lufbery was decorated with the Cross of the 
Legion d 'Honneur, the Croix de Guerre with ten palms, the 
British Military Medal, and other Allied medals. 

When Thaw went to the Third Pursuit Group, Robert Sou- 
biran succeeded him as commanding officer of the One Hun- 
dred and Third Pursuit Squadron, and eventually was pro- 
moted major. Soubiran was decorated with the Cross of the 
Legion d' Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with two palms. His 
first citation read: 

An American enlisted since the beginning of the war in the For- 
eign Legion, where he took part in the combats in the Aisne in 19 14 
and in the Champagne attacks in 191 5. Wounded October 19, 1915. 
Passed into the Aviation, he showed himself to be an excellent pilot, 
fulfilling with a remarkable ardor the missions confided to him. Octo- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ber 17, 1917, while protecting an attack on Drachens, forced an enemy 
machine to land out of control. 

William Dugan remained with the One Hundred and Third 
Squadron until June 1, 191 8, when he was made officer in 
charge of repairs and testing at the American Acceptance Park 
at Orly, where he remained on duty until after the Armistice. 
Dugan had gone to America on leave in 1917, married while 
there, and brought his bride back to France with him. While on 
leave in Paris during the summer of 1 917, he met by chance his 
brother, Charles Dugan, whom he had not seen for eight years. 
Charles Dugan had enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1914, and 
became a sergeant in an infantry regiment. 

After the signing of the Armistice, the following announce- 
ment was made in General Order No. 17: 

Headquarters, First Pursuit Wing 
Air Service, A.E.F. 
November 16, 191 8 

General Order 

1. The One Hundred and Third Aero Squadron, Third Pursuit 
Group, will hold itself in readiness to move at any moment to join the 
First Pursuit Group and proceed into Germany. 

1. This honor has been conferred upon the One Hundred and Third 
Aero Squadron for its long and faithful service with French and Amer- 
ican armies. 

3. The Wing Commander takes the opportunity of expressing his 
pleasure at having this Squadron under his command. The Lafayette 
Escadrille, organized long before the entry of the United States into 
the European War, played an important part in bringing home to our 
people the basic issues of the War. To the French people of future 
generations the names of its organizers and early pilots must mean 
what the names of Lafayette and Rochambeau mean to us Americans 
of this generation. To mention only a few, the names of Norman 
Prince, Kiffin Rockwell, James McConnell, Victor Chapman, Cap- 
tain James Norman Hall, Major Kenneth Marr, Major David McK. 
Peterson, Major Raoul Lufbery, and Lieutenant-Colonel William 



Thaw, are never to be forgotten. In February last the Lafayette 
Escadrille of the French Army was transferred to the One Hundred 
and Third Aero Squadron, United States Army. It was the first, and 
for nearly two months it was the only, American Air Service organiza- 
tion on the Front. The Squadron produced two of America's four Pur- 
suit Group Commanders as well as a very large proportion of the 
squadron and flight commanders. While giving thus generously of 
its experienced personnel to new units, the standard of merit of this 
Squadron has never been lowered. No task was too arduous or too 
hazardous for it to perform successfully. In the recent decisive opera- 
tions of the First American Army, the One Hundred and Third Aero 
Squadron has done its share. 

14. The Wing Commander congratulates Captain Robert Soubiran, 
Squadron Commander, One Hundred and Third Aero Squadron, and 
all of his personnel, commissioned and enlisted. No other organization 
in the American Army has a right to such a high measure of satisfac- 
tion in feeling its difficult task has been performed. So long as the 
personnel bears in mind the record the Squadron has established, there 
can be no other prospect for it than that of a splendid future. 

B. M. Atkinson 
Lt. Col., Air Service, U.S.A., Commanding 

Most of the American volunteer pilots flying with French 
escadrilles transferred to their National Army during the spring 
and summer of 191 8, although Frederick Zinn was especially 
asked for by the American Army authorities in the fall of 1917. 
His long experience as an aerial photographer and observer 
made him an exceptionally valuable man, and he was com- 
missioned captain and put in charge of a department of the 
United States Air Service, where he served at the American 
G.H.Q. at Chaumont, at the First Air Depot ', Colombey-les- 
Belles, and elsewhere, until the end of the war. He was pro- 
moted major, and after the Armistice went to Berlin as head of 
the American Mission for locating the graves of American 
aviators who fell in enemy territory. 

Marius Rocle, who had flown for over a year as observer and 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

machine-gunner with various French escadri/les, was com- 
missioned a second lieutenant, and went, first, to the Thirteenth 
Aero Squadron and then to the Six Hundred and Forty-Fourth, 
where he remained until the end of hostilities. 

Louis Charton had a very short career as an aviator. He was 
brevetted as a pilot on May 14, 1917, and went to the front 
with the Escadrille Spad 92 on August 12. Flying over the Ver- 
dun sector two weeks later, he was shot down by German anti- 
aircraft batteries and was made prisoner. His health broke 
down in the prison camps, and in the summer of 191 8 he was 
interned in Switzerland. 

Charton made many efforts to get back to France, and wrote: 
' I wish to avenge myself for the miseries I suffered in captivity, 
and to seek vengeance for the death of my brother. I am bored 
here, and hate to remain inactive while so many of my com- 
rades are having the honor of hunting the Boches.' 

Charton was not released from the internment camp until 
the end of the war. 

Lawrence Scanlan made a valiant effort to become an avia- 
tor, but his old wound and shortened leg made his training diffi- 
cult. He finally got past the ground-training stage, and began 
making trial flights for his brevet. He then had a unique series 
of accidents, his aeroplane falling several times from high alti- 
tudes, but Scanlan always escaped unscathed. 

In July, 1917, Scanlan's aeroplane crashed through the roof 
of an army bakery at Avord. The soldiers who had been en- 
gaged in mixing the bread fled from the building, not knowing 
what had happened; Scanlan extricated himself from the wreck- 
age and, all covered with flour, followed them out into the 

The captain commanding the aviation school had seen 
the accident, and rushed over to the scene. He met Scan- 
lan, mistook him for one of the bakers, and shouted at 



In the bakery at Camp d'Avord 

Left to right: Robert Sonbiran, JVillis Haviland, Kenneth Marr, William Thaw 
French mechanic, David McK. Peterson 


'Come into the bakery and help get out the body of the dead 
pilot there!' 

'I am the dead pilot, Captain,' replied Scanlan. 

The wounded leg continued to give him trouble, and finally 
in September, 1917, Scanlan to his great disappointment was 
forced to renounce aviation and return to America. 

One hundred and eighty American pilots in all flew at the 
front in French uniform. They served with ninety-three differ- 
ent French pursuit, observation, and bombardment squadrons. 
Fifty-one were killed in action; six were killed in school acci- 
dents; and five died of illness. Fifteen were taken prisoners; 
ninety-three transferred to the United States Air Service and 
twenty-six to the United States Naval Aviation. Thirty-three 
remained by their own choice with the French Aviation until 
the end of the war. The American volunteer pilots were offi- 
cially credited with the destruction of one hundred and ninety- 
nine German aeroplanes. 

Two of the Americans who volunteered in the Foreign Legion 
in 1 914 were closely connected with the Aviation in 1917-18, 
without being pilots or observers. John Hopper invented early 
in 1 917 a luminous indicating device for the night landing of 
aeroplanes, which was widely used by the Allied Aviation forces, 
and made a number of night flights himself as passenger. 
Robert Percy left the Legion in the spring of 1917 to become 
William Thaw's orderly, and remained with Thaw in that ca- 
pacity until after the Armistice. 


Paul Pavelka (see Chapter XIV) sailed from Marseille on 
January 30, 1917, and, after a pleasant voyage broken by a 
short stop at Malta, arrived at Salonika early in February. 
His life on the picturesque but difficult Near-Eastern Front can 
best be told by the following extracts from his own letters: 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

February 9, 191 7 

'At last I am again on the job. I am now assigned to the 
Escadrille N. 391, and find the change quite interesting. I have 
a Nieuport as on the French front, with the only exception that 
I can fly it five hours instead of two. This place is far more in- 
teresting than the Occidental front. Here where we are sta- 
tioned one sees nothing but troops passing by: Serbs, French, 
Russians, Italians, British, and Greek. Now and then a de- 
tachment of prisoners files by, consisting of Bulgars or Turks, 
with an occasional Austrian or a German. The saddest sight of 
all is to see the Bulgars marching along without any shoes, the 
frozen ground cutting their feet. For all that, they seem only 
too glad to be away from the front. 

'The Serbs are a hardy lot, and good fighters. They are not 
disciplined, however, and come and go as they please. A Ser- 
bian regiment will pass in the morning, in the form of a group 
of men, then, for three or four days after, the same regiment is 
passing by, some in twos, some in fours, and here and there an 
officer walking along with his hands in his pockets. They go 
into the line and remain there until almost starved out, for 
their revictualling service is very poor, with musk-oxen, don- 
keys, and a few half-starved pack-horses. The men themselves 
carry as much as any of the mules or pack-horses. 

'The best troops here in my estimation are the French. They 
are the same good old poilus we see in France, with the same 
high spirit, singing and joking in spite of the severe cold, and 
over-flooded roads on which they have to travel. 

'It took me four days to reach the escadrille, by tractor, so I 
had a good experience with the over-flooded Vardar district. 
We were stalled by the water reaching our magneto. It only 
took four hours of hard labor and a good wetting to get us out ! 

'Here at the escadrille we are not so badly off. We are quar- 
tered in aeroplane cases, which are far better than tents. Our 
popote (mess) is good, and costs only three francs fifty per day. 



'We do many things here with the enemy which would be 
almost impossible on the Western Front. They seem very poor 

'We have newspapers published at Salonika, which help us 
with information as to what the outside world is doing. Amer- 
ica seems to have taken a final stand, which I hope will help 
out the Allies. 

'You should be here to witness some of the fun that takes 
place with the Greek population. We accuse them of being 
Turks, whereupon they protest most indignantly, and say: 
"Bon Francais, moi Grec Venizelos , Grec Macedoine. Turc 
pas bon, Bulgare pas bon!" ["Good Frenchmen, me Venizelos 
Greek, Macedonian Greek. Turk no good, Bulgar no good."] 
Then they make signs of shooting all the Turks and Bulgars. A 
good many Turkish women are to be seen around; they dress in 
black and when out of doors always wear veils. 

'I am awfully glad that I came to the Orient. It is just what 
I desired, in the line of war. One hundred and eighty kilo- 
metres from nowhere, plenty of rough work, and some advanc- 
ing to keep up the enthusiasm of every one concerned. We see 
sights here which we never shall forget.' 

Pavelka was mentioned in July in the Order of the entire 
Allied Armies fighting on the Macedonian front, and decorated 
by the Commander-in-Chief with the Croix de Guerre. His 
citation read: 

Paul Pavelka, Sergeant-Pilot with the Army of the Orient; an 
American citizen who volunteered for the duration of the war; pain- 
fully wounded with the Foreign Legion, June 16, 1915 ; transferred to 
the Aviation Service, where he became an ardent, brave, and con- 
scientious fighting pilot. Since being with the Army of the Orient, he 
has given every proof of eagerness to fight and devotion; has had 
numerous combats, frequently returning with his machine riddled 
with bullets. 

Pavelka wrote on July 30: 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

' It is considered a great thing to have a citation of this nature. 
All day long I have done nothing but shake hands, and my right 
hand is almost worn off. Still, I would rather have it so than 
shot off by a damned Hun. 

'I have two machines now, a 120 H.P. Nieuport, and an A.R. 
170 H.P., with a Greek officer as passenger, with whom I expect 
to make a few long-distance raids. He speaks perfect English, 
and is a charming sort of a chap. However, he does not know 
much about handling a machine gun. This I will soon teach 
him. I expect to make my first raid in a few days. 

'It has been very hot here these past few days. So hot that a 
good many of our boys are being sent to France, as they are not 
able to stand the heat. Malaria reigns supreme. We see many 
men who are "dango" from the heat; some become dangerous, 
and others quite amusing. Leaves are being accorded, and there 
are about ten thousand permissionnaires on their way to sunny 
France — or rather shady France, for God knows no one would 
want more sun than there is here in Macedonia.' 

Edgar Bouligny, who had finished his training as an aviator, 
volunteered for service on the Macedonian front in October, 
1917, and a letter, dated November 13, 1917, which he wrote 
very soon after his arrival at Salonika from France, contained 
sad news about Pavelka: 

'Paul Pavelka is dead. Day before yesterday, while riding a 
vicious horse belonging to the British Cavalry, he fell with the 
brute, and received internal injuries from which he succumbed 

' I did not know that poor Pavelka was near Salonika, and it 
was only this morning that I heard a pilot say that his funeral 
would take place at nine o'clock at the Zeitenlick Cemetery at 
Salonika. It was seven o'clock when I heard the terrible news, 
so I rushed to the Captain of my camp and obtained permission 
to attend the funeral. The CO. gave orders that I should have 
an automobile, so by rushing things I got to the cemetery just 



in time. All the aviators of the Salonika sector were there; also 
a good many officers from the French and British camps. 

'The piquet d'honneur was furnished by a French infantry 
regiment, and there was also an armed guard composed of Ser- 
bian soldiers. The funeral services were read by a chaplain 
from the British Army, and in the chapel a French almoner 
made a talk. He spoke of the brave and valuable services ren- 
dered to France by Pavelka, and also added a few words about 
the great friendship existing between the United States and 

'In the crowd I noticed the United States Consul. On Pavel- 
ka's tomb were beautiful wreaths, sent by the pilots and ob- 
servers of Escadrilles 502 and 507, and another from the me- 
chanics and personnel of Escadrille 507.' 

Pavelka's death was a striking instance of the irony of Fate. 
He met by chance an English cavalryman who was formerly his 
comrade in the Foreign Legion, and visited him at the British 
camp. The American was once a very good horseman himself, 
and asked to try out one of a freshly arrived lot of horses. The 
animal was an unruly one, and when it found Pavelka could not 
be dismounted, fell with him and rolled over on him. 

Pavelka had travelled in many lands and had escaped almost 
every conceivable form of death on land, on sea, and in the air. 
He finally met an end, as Harry Esty Dounce wrote in the New 
York ' Sun,' in a feature story about the chivalrous Connecticut 
fighter, which might have overtaken him in boyhood on his 
father's farm. 


Edgar Bouligny flew on the Near-Orient Front for eight 
months, and his adventures there were many and varied. On 
January 8, 191 8, he wrote: 

'We are having polar weather these days, and it is some cold 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

up in the sky. This morning a dirty Boche "bird " flew over our 
heads, and distributed several thousand circulars, on which was 
printed the following: " Savez-vous nager?" [" Do you know how 
to swim?"] What do you think of the nerve of the Square 
Heads? I wonder if they think for a minute that they can 
throw us into the sea. I am positive they are seriously mistaken. 

'In spite of the cold weather, I have been doing quite a lot of 
flying. The work I do is very useful, so I feel that I am earning 
my gamelle. The morale is excellent on this front. All the sol- 
diers appear satisfied, and I hope the same feeling exists on the 
Western Front. 

'I go to Salonika quite often. The city is curious enough, but 
the population is composed of Greeks and Turks, with a large 
sprinkling of Israelites. Believe me, they are some grafters, all 
past-masters in the art of separating you from your mazuma. > 

Bouligny returned to France late in June, 191 8. He hesitated 
for many months before he finally decided to leave the French 
Army, of which he had been so long and so faithfully a member. 
Finally, on October 24, 191 8, he transferred to the United States 
Aviation. He had always been too busy at the front, and knew 
too little of the art of wire-pulling, to further his own interests 
at the American G.H.Q., and he was given a commission as 
second lieutenant only, to the great disgust of all who knew his 
splendid war record and appreciated his modesty and courage. 

Chapter XVIII 


f' I ^he One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment remained in 
the Champagne region throughout the spring of 191 7, 

-IL part of the time in the trenches and part of the time in 
reserve. Capdevielle returned early in the summer from his 
leave in America; while there he had met with an enthusiastic 
reception, and was called upon to speak at West Point and at 
a number of Army training camps. 

The regiment went into the trenches near Reims toward the 
end of June. Sergeant Jacob and his section of engineers were 
posted in the city itself, to fight the fires that were lighted there 
every day by the German bombardment. An interesting pic- 
ture of conditions in the historic old metropolis of the Cham- 
pagne country, now for almost three years under enemy shell- 
fire, was given in one of the Rhode Island veteran's letters, 
which read: 

'The first thing I did when I got into the city was to go 
around and see the damage done by the daily shelling. Of 
course, my first visit was to the old cathedral. I had my first 
glimpse of it from the Quai du Port, and from a distance of 
about six hundred yards the ancient church looks untouched, 
but as you come nearer you see the difference. 

'The two towers are still there, but the statues and figures 
sculptured in the stone are all broken. It is a pity. Inside the 
cathedral it is still worse, because the roof and the top of the 
transept are gone, and instead of the semi-darkness that we al- 
ways find in French churches, there is the light of the open sky. 

'The walls are still standing, but are full of holes and black- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ened by fires. The buildings all around the church have suffered 
much from the bombardment. Some streets are all crumbled 

4 There are still some civilians living in the city, but very few, 
and the place looks deserted. Grass is growing in the streets 
through the pavements. A part of the canal is empty of water, 
with boats and barges lying on the bottom. 

'We are in the city itself and every day the Huns fire into it. 
Seldom do we pass a night without being awakened by the ex- 
plosion of their shells. To-morrow I am going to see "Cap" and 
Mulhauser, who is in the trenches near here. Colonel Lavigne- 
Delville has proposed me as instructor for the U.S. Army; it 
may help me to pass into it, as he will give me a good refer- 

Mulhauser was sent in July as instructor to a camp of the 
American Expeditionary Forces in France. Later, he went to 
the United States with a French Military Mission, and was 
stationed at Camp Gordon, near Atlanta, Georgia. Capdevielle 
entered the French officers' school at Saint-Cyr — the West 
Point of France — in August, and Jacob was left the lone Amer- 
ican volunteer in the One Hundred and Seventieth. 

The regiment moved, early in October, a little way north to 
the Chemin-des-Dames sector, which for six months had been 
one of the most terrible of the entire front. The French had 
captured on May 4 and 5 about twenty kilometres of the crest 
along which ran the blood-stained 'Ladies' Road,' but the 
Germans retained their positions on the eastern slopes, and 
subjected the French trenches to a formidable bombardment 
and almost daily attacks in a tireless effort to retake the ob- 
servation points which dominated the Ailette Valley. 

General Maistre, Commander of the French Sixth Army, 
which held the sector, was determined to end the German 
menace, and massed troops and artillery for that purpose. 

Sergeant Jacob wrote on October 22: 


Jacob and Capdevielle 

'We made a splendid coup de main a few days ago and are at- 
tacking to-morrow, perhaps to-night. You surely will see some- 
thing in to-morrow's communique and you will easily guess 
where your old friend Jacob is. 

'I have seen several American officers who I suppose came to 
see how to prepare and make an attack. I met one young Amer- 
ican who was trying to have a glimpse of the battlefield, but 
of course he could not go very far without being stopped. Luck- 
ily, I came along, and showed him the armored trains firing and 
the gunboats in action on the Aisne River near by. 

'Rocle is at an aviation camp near here, and I saw him 
yesterday. He told me about Dugan getting married while on 
leave in America. 

'I have made an application to be attached to the American 
Army now in France as interpreter, but the answer does not 
come very quickly. However, I am going to make another. 

'After the attack, it will be grand repos for us. We have rain 
and mud here, but it is mixed with victory.' 

At five-fifteen on the morning of October 23, before dawn and 
in a cold fog, General Maistre's troops attacked along a twelve- 
kilometres front between Moisy Farm and La Raque. Eighteen 
hundred cannon — the greatest number yet used along so 
narrow a front — had drenched the German lines with projec- 
tiles for six days and six nights, and the two lines of trenches 
which constituted the enemy's first position were seized by the 
attackers at a single bound. Tanks then advanced, and accom- 
panied the infantrymen to the conquest of the second position. 
Chevignon, Vaudesson, Fort Malmaison, and other essential 
points were captured; the enemy was outflanked all along that 
part of the Chemin des Dames not yet in French hands, and 
LudendorfT withdrew his shattered divisions to the north bank 
of the Ailette during the night of November 1. 

The operation was planned and executed in a model manner. 
The German losses were great, and those of the French small. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The French captured 11,157 prisoners, 200 heavy guns, 222 
trench-mortars, and much material. 

Eugene Jacob came safely through the attack, and went with 
his regiment for a period of rest at Luxeuil-les-Bains. In Dec- 
ember, the One Hundred and Seventieth went into the trenches 
along a high crest of the Vosges Mountains. 

'Once more we see the sad landscapes of No-Man 's-Land,' 
wrote Jacob; 'it is very cold on the top of these mountains. 
There is a rumor of a strong German attack this winter. They 
hope to crush us before Uncle Sam gets here with his army, but, 
instead, we will give them a good thrashing, as we always have 
done before. Of course, it will be hard to fight in winter with 
this cold weather, but we can do it as well as we did at Verdun 
two years ago.' 

Sergeant Jacob was liberated from the French Army early in 
January, 191 8. He went at once to Paris; within two days he 
had enlisted in the United States Army as a private, and was 
sent to the First Division, where he was put in Headquarters 
Company of the Eighteenth Infantry. 

David King was transferred to the United States Army in 
December, 1917, and was made a first lieutenant. After he had 
finished his training as an artilleryman, he had been sent with a 
sound-ranging section to the Saint-Mihiel sector, and remained 
there until the order came for him to join his National Army. 
He was sent to Berne, Switzerland, early in 191 8, and put in 
charge of an office for checking American prisoners, but he also 
engaged in counter-espionage work as a more exciting side- 

John A. Cordonnier changed from the One Hundred and 
Sixty-Third Line Regiment to the United States Army on 
April 23, 191 8, and fought from then on as a 'doughboy.' Wal- 
ter K. Appleton, Jr., also transferred to the American Expe- 
ditionary Forces. He had entered a French Army Aviation 
training school after he recovered from typhoid fever in 191 6, 


Jacob and Capdevielle 

but was finally pronounced unfit to become an aviator and sent 
back to the infantry, where he remained until the United States 
Army took him over. 


The Americans who were liberated from the Foreign Legion 
to join their own army went first to Paris, where they were ex- 
amined again by the United States military authorities. Jack 
Casey was rejected for active service in the A.E.F. on account 
of his age; he was greatly disappointed, and thought at first of 
reenlisting in the Legion. He finally was put in charge of the 
art department of an American War organization, where he 
served until the end of hostilities. 

Theodore Haas entered the automobile corps, and drove one 
of the army trucks. Algernon Sartoris was attached to the same 
service as a private, despite his hopes of obtaining a commission 
in the United States Army, and accompanied the drivers to aid 
in unloading the trucks. He soon broke down under this heavy 
work, and was discharged from the A.E.F. in the spring of 191 8. 

Sartoris had lost or had had stolen from him the United States 
Army equipment which had been issued to him, and was threat- 
ened with court-martial when he could not turn it in upon leav- 
ing the service. He was told that he must pay the United States 
Army one hundred dollars for the missing equipment, or else go 
to prison and work out the sum at the rate of one dollar a day. 
Sartoris's financial affairs had gone entirely to ruin since his en- 
listment in the Legion, and he was absolutely penniless. His 
family in America did not reply to his cables asking for aid, and 
the situation began to look black for him. 

Finally, to avoid the spectacle of a grandson of a former 
United States President, an ex-officer of the United States 
Army, and a late soldier of the Foreign Legion serving a sen- 
tence in an A.E.F. military prison in France, one of Sartoris's 

3 11 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

friends — a grandson of two Confederate soldiers who fought 
U. S. Grant from 1861 to 1865 — paid for the lost equipment, 
and gave Sartoris a further hundred dollars with which to buy 
civilian clothes. 

Sartoris was a gifted writer, and had often contributed to 
leading American and English magazines. He wrote for the 
' Chicago Daily News ' a series of articles and character sketches 
drawn from his experiences in the Legion. In the summer of 
191 8, he went to the United States, where he again tried with- 
out success to get a commission in the Army. 

Christopher Charles, Arthur Barry, Nick Karayinis, and 
Walter Appleton were sent to the Twenty-Third Engineers' 
headquarters at Chaumont; Barry and Karayinis were made 
mail-carriers, Appleton a messenger-boy, and Charles was given 
an office job! 

Charles was very indignant at the use made of war-hardened 
veterans who had had more experience in the firing line than the 
entire General Staff of the American Expeditionary Forces, and 
on March 24 he wrote: 

'Things are very dull where we are at present, and I think we 
made a mistake in all going into the same thing. It would have 
been far better if we had all split up. If I still find things dull 
within another week, I shall ask to be put where I can hear the 
whistling of those old shells once more. At times I just long to 
be there once more, for I do not feel comfortable in a quiet spot 
like this. It is hard, when no one — French or American — 
seems to care. If we could only get a bit of credit for our three 
and a half years of hardships I would be pleased to go back to 
the game I was made for.' 

Charles wrote again on April 16: 

'I made a big mistake in joining the Engineering outfit, for I 
am not a bit of use here. I do a whole lot of nothing from morning 
until night. 

'Appleton seems to be a pretty handy boy around the office, 


Jacob and Capdevielle 

so he is perfectly contented. Barry and Nick are both kept busy 
all day as mail orderlies, and I am the only one with a lot of 
time on his hands, and I certainly have a weary time of it. 

' I am trying in every way to find where my brother is, 
and as soon as he arrives, I am going back to a machine-gun 
company with him. You know that is the game I am at home 
in. When I sit in an office where I know I am of no use and 
think of the life in the trenches, I get homesick to be back there. 

' It is only a man who has been out there that can understand 
the feeling. I suppose if I tried to tell the boys here, they would 
only laugh and say that I was "throwing the bull." Believe me, 
I liked a rest and I got it, but now I am restless, and when the 
day is over and I go back to the hay pile in the barracks, it is 
then that I wish for the old excitement once more.' 

Charles and Karayinis finally got transferred to the Eight- 
eenth Infantry Regiment, Headquarters Company, where they 
found their old comrade, Eugene Jacob, again a sergeant. Their 
regiment formed part of the First Division, the hardest fighting 
unit in the A.E.F., and with it they participated in all the 
heaviest battles delivered by the American Army in France. 

David E. Wheeler secured his release from the Canadian 
regiment with which he was serving, and in the spring of 191 8 
came to the First Division, A.E.F., as surgeon, with the rank of 
lieutenant. When General Mangin on July 18 launched his 
Franco-American forces to the assault of the German hosts on 
the Chaudun plateau, in the attack which ushered in the final 
Allied triumph, Lieutenant Wheeler accompanied the first 
wave of Americans, and cared for the wounded with his habit- 
ual courage and devotion. 

Wheeler chatted with General Frank Parker, who was also 
following the van of assault, early in the afternoon, then turned 
to go in one direction while the General went in another. The 
German artillery was laying a terrible curtain fire, through 
which the ex-Legionnaire attempted to pass. A heavy shell 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

burst near him, and a large splinter tore through his body. 
Lieutenant Wheeler was hastened to a hospital, where his wife 
was a nurse, and died in her arms a few hours after he reached 
there. He was mourned by all who knew him, and especially 
by his old comrades of the Legion, as one of the finest types of 
soldier the war disclosed. 

When the Americans were held up in the Argonne Forest by 
the Germans in October, the Eighteenth Regiment was in front 
of Grandpre. Eugene Jacob and another American soldier were 
sheltered in a shell-hole on October 3, waiting for troublesome 
enemy machine-gun nests to be reduced. A huge German shell 
exploded right on the edge of the hole; Jacob was wounded in 
the right forearm, and his comrade in the leg. Jacob had been 
at the front for almost four years, had participated in almost all 
the great battles of the war, and this was his first wound. 

'Fritz nearly got me in the last battle,' he wrote; 'I had a 
very close call, but the wound is nothing serious, just a" blighty." 

'I am in a hospital at Vittel, which may be an all-right place 
as a resort, but I do not like it in my present condition. I can- 
not go out, so it looks more like a jail to me. It is very hard to 
get a pass to Paris, and it is harder on me than on the others, as 
I used to take a trip there every three months when I was in the 
French Army. 

'Is it really the end of the war? I cannot believe it!' 

Brooke Bonnell came to France early in 191 8, and despite his 
wooden leg drove a motor-truck for an American war organiza- 
tion until months after the Armistice. Joseph Lydon tried to 
join him, but in a weakened condition fell ill with tuberculosis 
and had to enter a sanatorium. 

Billy Thorin also was taken sick with tuberculosis in New 
York in the spring of 191 8, and was sent to a sanatorium in 
Arizona by Mr. John Jay Chapman. Thorin fought desperately 
to get well, and his courage and cheerfulness endeared him to 
his doctors and nurses. In New York, people had attempted to 


Jacob and Capdevielle 

lionize him as a hero of the war, but he had refused to be the 
centre of attraction at any gathering to which he was invited. 
He kept the same attitude at the sanatorium, although he 
followed the events of the war with intense interest. He at last 
realized that he could not get well, and told his doctors that his 
only request was that he be given a military funeral, if possible. 

Thorin died on September 25, 1918, three years to the day 
from the beginning of the great Champagne battle in which he 
was twice wounded. His dying wish was granted, for the Gover- 
nor of Arizona and the Commandant of a near-by military post 
sent a regiment of soldiers to carry out the last rites at his grave, 
in the cemetery near the sanatorium. 


Ferdinand Capdevielle finished his period of instruction at 
Saint-Cyr early in 191 8, and rejoined the One Hundred and 
Seventieth Infantry at the front in Lorraine as second lieuten- 
ant. It was suggested that he transfer to the United States 
Army with the rank of captain, but Capdevielle refused. 'I 
started out in this war as a soldier in the French Army,' he said, 
'and I will finish it with the French.' 

When the German offensives began in the North in March 
and April, Capdevielle's division was held in Lorraine by a 
grave epidemic of grippe, but was hastened to the Champagne 
country when the Crown Prince's armies on May 27 surprised 
and wiped out the exhausted British divisions holding the 
Chemin-des-Dames position, crossed the Aisne, and marched 
rapidly toward the Marne. On May 30, General Petain issued 
his famous Order of the Day: 'Debout, les heros de la MarneV — 
'Arise, heroes of the Marne' — and the One Hundred and 
Seventieth was one of the devoted regiments that counter- 
attacked all along the line of Soissons to Reims, and held the 
Teutons on the north bank of the historic river. 

3 l S 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

The One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment played an im- 
portant part in the great French counter-offensive that started 
on July 1 8, which Under-Lieutenant Capdevielle afterwards 
described as follows: 

' Marshal Foch's turning on the enemy on July 1 8 was almost 
as great a surprise for us as it was for the Germans,' he said. 
'My regiment had been facing the Germans along the Marne 
since early in June. When the fifth German offensive began on 
July 15, we were in line just north of Chateau-Thierry. On the 
night of the 17th, my battalion was relieved and marched back 
for repos a few kilometres behind the trenches. 

'My men were just getting settled for the night's sleep when 
orders came at eleven-thirty, to return immediately to the front 
line. Off we marched in a drenching rainstorm; and we reached 
the trenches shortly before dawn. Then I knew something un- 
usual was on foot. A hundred yards behind the trenches heavy 
batteries were taking position, while with thunderclaps drown- 
ing the noise they made, field batteries were moving up between 
the French and the German lines. 

'General Degoutte's final order came, and just before day 
broke, we charged the enemy's positions with a rolling barrage 
fire from our artillery preceding us. My regiment attacked 
from Veuilly-la-Poterie and Croissant Wood, and we quickly 
carried three small woods where the Germans were installed. 
The enemy resisted feebly; a few machine-gunners fired, but 
the majority of the infantrymen fled. Turning and capturing an 
occasional machine-gun nest encountered in the wheat fields or 
woods, the poilus advanced rapidly. 

'Without doing any serious fighting, we reached and cap- 
tured Licy-Clignon, and then started to follow the little Clig- 
non Brook. I was leading a section of men, and we left the 
shelter of the village houses. We had not gone a hundred yards 
before we met a tremendous stream of machine-gun bullets. 
We dropped to the ground and crawled back to the village. 


Jacob and Capdevielle 

Patrols slipped out, and we located in the woods along the ra- 
vine the German blockhouse which was obstructing our passage. 

'The blockhouse was hollowed out of a small but extremely 
steep hillock, which had been converted into a regular fortress, 
and from the mouths of four tunnels poured streams of bullets 
commanding the road along Clignon Brook. A higher hill a 
little farther along also was powerfully organized with ma- 
chine-gun pits. These positions held up for several hours the 
advance of our entire division. 

'Finally, a Corsican of my company, named Fieschi,who was 
awaiting court-martial for having been absent without leave, 
crawled forward, climbed the almost perpendicular slope of the 
blockhouse hillock, and with his rifle killed the gunners of the 
heavy rapid-firer, so my other poilus were able to advance and 
kill or capture the crews of the remaining machine guns. It is 
needless to say that Fieschi was not court-martialled, but I 
cited him in Army Orders and decorated him with the Croix de 

' Meanwhile, two other resourceful poilus made a wide detour, 
climbed the fortified hill, and bayoneted three German ma- 
chine-gunners. We started forward, but other Germans, who 
had hidden in the wheat to ambush us, opened fire. We spotted 
their positions, and cleaned them out in short order. We then 
made another rapid advance, and reached the railroad line 
running from Brecy to Saint-Germain, where we had a big 
fight with the Germans. 

'A strong patrol from my regiment entered the railroad tun- 
nel, which enabled us to turn the village and enter from the rear. 
Here again the enemy resisted fiercely — mostly machine-gun- 
ners, one man to each light rapid-firer. We killed many Ger- 
mans and captured seven; also several machine guns. Sixty-six 
civilians, who had been in the village throughout the German 
occupation, welcomed us with great emotion. 

' But we hadn't time to pause. We continued to pursue the 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ever-retreating foe. It was a fine sensation to push the Ger- 
mans back so rapidly, but as a battle it didn't compare with 
Verdun or with the Somme in 1916. We kept going ahead until 
July 25, when, dog-tired, we were relieved. 

'My division had advanced twenty-two kilometres and had 
captured hundreds of prisoners and much important material. 
Our losses were not heavy. In my company six men were killed 
and forty were wounded, mostly by machine-gun bullets. It is 
my conviction that only an abundance of machine guns, skil- 
fully used, saved the Germans from a great and perhaps fatal 
disaster in the Marne pocket battle.' 

After a period of repose, Capdevielle's division moved over to 
the right wing of the Champagne sector and became part of the 
Fourth French Army under General Gouraud. 

Capdevielle wrote on September 11 : 'I am back in the 
trenches near where the Legion did great work in September, 
1 91 5. I am fighting under the great chief who stopped the 
Germans last July 15. Life is about the same as in ye days of 
old. The other night I went on patrol, and had a regular picnic 
butting my way through barbed entanglements. I got in three 
hours later with several bullet holes through my clothes. Some 
job to go out on a dark night and have to find your way around 
with the aid of a compass!' 

The Fourth Army attacked the Germans on September 26, 
and with his men Capdevielle advanced by Souain and the 
Navarin Farm across exactly the same terrain where he had 
fought three years previously. The Germans resisted bitterly, 
and held on to their positions to the last possible moment. 
Most of their machine-gunners died at their pieces, and the 
French losses were heavy. Their progress was irresistible, how- 
ever; the One Hundred and Seventieth stormed the heights 
around Somme-Py, and continued to advance due north. 

Paul Rockwell, who was attached to French Army Grand 
Headquarters as official war-correspondent for the 'Chicago 


"Jacob and Capdevielle 

Daily News,' was at General Gouraud's Headquarters at Cha- 
lons-sur-Marne early in October, when he noticed two battle- 
stained officers of the One Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 

'Pardon me,' Rockwell said to the nearest officer, 'can you 
give me any news of Sous-Lieutenant Capdevielle of your 

The officer addressed looked at Rockwell with a hesitating 
air, and then asked: 'Are you a relative of Lieutenant Capde- 
vielle ? ' 

'No,' Rockwell replied, 'but a very good friend.' 

' I am very sorry to tell you,' said the Frenchman in a tone of 
heartfelt regret, 'that Capdevielle has just been killed. We had 
captured Orfeuil on October 3 and were starting on a further 
attack. Capdevielle, as always, was advancing at the head of 
his company, and had not got twenty metres from the depar- 
ture trench when a bullet struck him in the forehead. He was 
killed instantly without suffering, and as he would have wished, 
leading an attack. It is a great loss to us. Lieutenant Capde- 
vielle was the last American volunteer left in our regiment and 
was one of the bravest men and best comrades we have ever 

Ferdinand Capdevielle was the last of the American volun- 
teers of 1 914 to fall in battle. General Gouraud awarded him 
posthumously the Cross of the Legion of Honor, with a superb 
citation in the Order of the Army, which read: 

Sous-Lieutenant Ferdinand Capdevielle: a brilliant officer. An 
American citizen, enlisted voluntarily in the service of France since 
the beginning of the war. Participated either with the Foreign Legion 
or the One Hundred and Seventieth Infantry Regiment in all the im- 
portant battles of the campaign. Always won the admiration of his 
men and secured the esteem of his chiefs by his military and moral 
virtues. October 3, 191 8, entrusted with leading to the assault the 
head platoon of his company, he went forward superbly, progressing 

3 X 9 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

in spite of the extremely violent fire of the enemy mitrailleuses, which 
he immediately attempted to reduce by the manoeuvre of his pieces. 
Fell gloriously, struck by a bullet in the head at the very instant he 
stood up to lead his men to the assault of the enemy position. Has 
already been cited. 

Chapter XIX 


Turning over the Flirey sector to an American brigade on 
January 20, 191 8, the Foreign Legion marched back to 
Pagny-la-Blanche-C6te and Maxey-sur-Vaise, and went 
into camp for a repose and a period of training for the decisive 
conflicts every one felt were near at hand. Still with the corps 
were Alfred Bustillos and Marius Philippe, who were away on a 
barrack-building corvee when the order came for the American 
Legionnaires to change to the United States Army; Jack Moyet, 
just back from the hospital, and Jack Noe, who had missed the 
transfer by being detached to the Moroccan Division's crew of 
telephone-wire layers. These men made a request to join the 
other American Legionnaires in the A.E.F., but so much oppo- 
sition and red tape were made by both the Legion and the 
United States authorities that they finally gave up their efforts 
to change flags. 

'I am very glad every time I meet the American soldiers/ 
wrote Noe. 'They really look good, and their spirits seem to me 
very high. I am very disappointed not to go with them; how- 
ever, I shall do my duty where I am, being satisfied if my place 
is supposed to be with the Foreign Legion. 

'Just the same, I belong to the Stars and Stripes, and I am 
glad to represent the United States in that regiment which has 
always shown so much gallantry.' 

The long-expected German offensive started on March 23. 
Supported by scores of fresh divisions liberated from the East- 
ern Front by the treaty with the Bolshevists, the irresistible 
waves of assault dashed over the Saint-Quentin sector held by 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the British, and Ludendorff hurried his armies forward in an en- 
deavor to cut off from each other the French and British forces. 
The French High Command hurled toward the danger-point 
every available division, with orders to mend at all costs the 
break in the wall that for over three and a half years had ex- 
tended from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier, and to keep the 
enemy from occupying the important city of Amiens. 

The Legion started north on April i, and detraining at Gran- 
villers was directed to Conty, where the Legionnaires witnessed 
the lamentable exodus of thousands of old men, women, and 
children, who were fleeing for the second time since August, 
1914, from the Teutonic invaders. 

The Germans were continuing to advance steadily on Amiens, 
and the Legion made an all-night march from Conty to Cotten- 
chy, where the Legionnaires bivouacked outside the village on 
the hillside and in Paraclet Wood. Earthworks were con- 
structed, while reconnaissances were carried out, and on April 
24, the regiment moved forward into a ravine west of Gentelles 
Wood as reserve for an English division which was holding the 
advanced position. 

On April 25 came the order to attack on the following day, 
and during the night the Legionnaires took up their positions 
for the battle. The movement was carried out with great diffi- 
culty, due to the blackness of the night and the lack of knowl- 
edge of the terrain. The English advanced line was very 
irregularly held, and German machine-gunners had slipped 
through here and there and set up their pieces, with which sev- 
eral of the Legion's assault companies came in contact. The 
Germans sent up numerous rockets which lit up the entire scene 
with an unwelcome light, and beat the plateau with gusts of 
machine-gun bullets and hails of field-gun shells, in vain efforts 
to hinder the Legion's reserves. 

Nevertheless, while the Second Battalion of the Legion, 
under the orders of Commandant Germann, remained in reserve 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

on the plateau extending from Villers-Bretonneux (recaptured 
the previous day from the Germans by an Australian regiment), 
by the Lafayette Escadrille's old aviation field at Cachy, to a 
ravine near Chelles, which separated it from the Amiens road, 
the First Battalion under Commandant de Sampigny and the 
Third Battalion under Commandant Colin took up their posi- 
tion facing the Hangard Wood. To their left was a London 
regiment, to the right the Fourth Algerian Tirailleurs. 

The Legionnaires threw up hasty breastworks, protecting 
themselves as best they could from the enemy shells of all cali- 
bres and the fire from the lines of machine guns installed along 
the crest between the wood and village of Hangard. 

The Allied attack was launched at five-fifteen the morning of 
April 16 in a dense fog, just as the Germans themselves were 
preparing to charge forward and endeavor to gain the mastery 
of the plateau. The struggle was bitter. LudendorfFs plans 
called for an entry into Amiens on the evening of April 27, and 
his orders were to let nothing bar the route. The Germans were 
in force: six picked Prussian, Bavarian, and Hessian divisions 
against the Moroccan Division and one English division. 

The first two companies of Legionnaires to start forward were 
wiped out before they had progressed seven hundred metres; 
Captain Meyer was killed and Captain Hageli desperately 
wounded. A breach was made in the line of combatants; the 
First and Third Battalions could not remain in liaison, and both 
flanks were left uncovered as entire companies of English and 
tirailleurs were cut down by machine-gun fire. 

Protected by the fog, which caused them to be mistaken for 
tirailleurs, the Germans infiltrated into the Allied lines, and 
there ensued long-drawn-out hand-to-hand fighting in which 
grenade and bayonet were freely used. 

Part of Captain Sandre's sustaining company gained a foot- 
hold in the northern corner of Hangard Wood and covered the 
right flank of the First Battalion, while Commandant Colin led 

3 2 3 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

his men, together with elements from the London regiment, to 
the assault of another part of the wood. Rivalling with each 
other in valor, the Legionnaires and Englishmen conquered the 
wood, but, weakened by heavy losses, were driven back by a 
heavy counter-attack. 

Commandant Germann now brought forward the Second 
Battalion and joined the remnants of the First, which, rallied by 
Lieutenant Lamare after Commandant de Sampigny fell, still 
clung tenaciously to the ground it had taken. Liaison was re- 
established between the Third Battalion and the Fourth Tirail- 
leurs, and although the Legionnaires were worn out by their 
all-day battle in the fog, they were asked to make a new and 
heavy effort, and to hold on to the position they had won. 

The Legionnaires not only held the ground they had already 
taken, despite a hellish bombardment and repeated enemy 
counter-attacks, but at a generous cost of blood conquered al- 
most all the rest of the wood, so important for the defense of 
Amiens. When night fell, the Third Battalion was solidly in- 
stalled in the wood, while the Second dug itself in along the 
plateau at the edge 

The First Battalion went into reserve, with its effectives re- 
duced to one officer and one hundred and eighty-seven men. 
The day had been a terrible one; the Legion had lost eighteen 
officers and eight hundred and thirty-three men hors de combat. 
In addition to Commandant Colin, five captains and four lieu- 
tenants were killed, among them two volunteers of August, 1914 
— Lieutenant Effremoff, a Russian, and Lieutenant Guad- 
agnini, an Italian who had remained in the Legion when the 
Quatrieme Regiment de Marche was liberated. 

Alfred Bustillos was wounded in the foot by a machine-gun 
bullet early in the battle, and carried off to a field hospital. 
Marius Philippe was awarded the Croix de Guerre because of the 
ardor and courage he displayed during the grenade fighting in 
the densest part of Hangard Wood. Jack Moyet won another 

3 2 4 

The Legion Saves Amiens 

citation in Army Orders; during a hill in the fighting, he ad- 
vanced into the wood on patrol with a sergeant and two other 
Legionnaires. Emerging alone from a thick part of the under- 
brush, he suddenly found himself facing a German lieutenant 
who was leading a strong patrol. The Teuton officer at once 
opened fire with an automatic pistol. 

' I was very near the Boche and thought my time had come, 
but he was too nervous and missed me,' related Moyet. 'I fired 
my rifle point-blank at him, at the same time running my bayo- 
net through his body. He fell dead. Meanwhile, my comrades 
came running out into the glade and opened fire on the other 
Boches, several of whom fell, while the others fled.' 

The conquered terrain was organized during the night. Un- 
der a heavy bombardment and a sweeping fire from machine 
guns, trenches and boyaux were dug, shelters were constructed, 
and the position rapidly became a defensive sector. 

'As we worked, our thoughts went back to another heroic 
combat delivered by the Legion in the same region, over be- 
yond Villers-Bretonneux which was flaming on the horizon,' 
wrote S. N. Kurth, a Luxembourg poet volunteer. 'While 
thinking of our comrades who were still lying between the lines, 
we remembered also those who fell two years before at Belloy- 
en-Santerre, there where that splendid American poet, Alan 
Seeger, had his rendezvous with Death.' 

Counter-attacks and curtain fires continued throughout the 
night, and all during the day of April Machine-gun nests, 
carefully concealed in an angle of the wood still held by the 
enemy, especially annoyed the Legionnaires. Four English 
tanks advanced to reduce them, and a company of Legionnaires 
commanded by Captain Jovitchevitch, a notable citizen of 
Cetigne, Montenegro, who during the retreat there aimed the 
cannon that demolished his own palace, was designated to ac- 
company the tanks and occupy the machine-gun emplacements. 

The noise of their motors warned the Germans that the tanks 

3 2 5 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

were approaching; their position was signalled to the artillery, 
and an unprecedented bombardment was directed against them. 
Explosion followed explosion, and flames shooting from the 
earth made the air hot as a furnace. The bitter odor of powder 
so saturated the air that many thought a new sort of poisonous 
gas was being used. The rattle of the machine guns could not 
be heard in the inferno, which Dante himself could not have 

Little by little the line was consolidated. The Germans tried 
out constant partial attacks, in efforts to ascertain the strength 
and intentions of the men facing them. On the following days 
and nights they tried in vain to approach the Legion's position, 
in which all gaps were now stopped. Thinking the French ar- 
tillery was hidden in the ravines behind the position, the 
enemy's bombardments were directed mainly to the rear of the 

The Legion remained in line until May 6, continually de- 
fending and organizing the terrain, but the era of great combats 
was for the moment terminated, and the front had a tendency 
to settle itself firmly. The last epic phase of the battle for 
Amiens was written with a generous flow of the Legion's blood 
— the blood of men from every country in the world. 

The spring sun returned, and with it the turn of the aviators. 
More than one German aeroplane was shot down over the 
Legion's trenches. The artillery on both sides continued very 
active, and the Legionnaires began to wonder if they were again 
in for a long season of stabilized warfare. 

Finally, during the night of May 6 and in the midst of a 
torrential downpour of rain, the Legion was relieved by the 
Ninety-Fourth French Infantry. The men picked their way 
across the water-filled shell-holes and the mud toward the rear 
and a well-earned rest. 

General Debeney, commander of the First French Army, 
cited the Legion in the Order of the Day, as follows: 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

April 26, 1918, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet, ani- 
mated by an indomitable energy and the very finest spirit of sacrifice, 
magnificently threw itself forward to the attack of Hangard Wood and 
of the plateau to the south of Villers-Bretonneux, fulfilling its mission 
despite the stubborn resistance of the enemy. Then affixed to the 
conquered terrain, resisting successfully five counter-attacks, main- 
taining integrally the gains of the day and contributing by its hero- 
ism to break the onrush of the enemy. 


The Foreign Legion camped in the picturesque old forest of 
Ermenonville and on the sunny plains around Nanteuil-le- 
Haudouin, and rested from its arduous exploits at Hangard 
Wood. The men were full of confidence and enthusiasm, de- 
spite their fatigue, and felt that the nomination of Marshal 
Foch as supreme Commander-in-Chief of all the Allied Armies, 
which had gained for the Franco-British forces victory in the 
defense of Amiens, would soon bring a complete and final tri- 
umph over the Germans. General Petain, Commander-in- 
Chief of the French armies, was preparing his reserves so that 
the further and inevitable onslaughts of the enemy might be 
checked and a general counter-offense launched at the proper 
hour; he considered that the Moroccan Division was one of the 
finest and most trustworthy units in his entire command, one 
that would always exploit successfully every advantage gained. 

When the Germans stormed the Chemin des Dames on May 
27, crossed the Aisne and the Vesle and reached the banks of 
the Marne in a lightning-like onslaught, the Moroccan Division 
was hastily moved in auto-busses to the Montague de Paris, just 
west above Soissons, and confided the mission of keeping the 
enemy from advancing onto the forests of Compiegne and Vil- 
lers-Cotterets. The Legion went into position beyond the 
Saconin-Breuil highway, and on the morning of May 30 en- 

3 2 7 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

gaged in a serious struggle with the Germans, who were moving 
westward from Soissons en masse. A heavy artillery prepara- 
tion preceded the attack, and the German battalions were ac- 
companied by armored aeroplanes which flew at a low altitude 
and machine-gunned the Legionnaires. Groups of German 
grenadiers and machine-gunners, taking advantage of the tall 
grass, ruined houses, and irregularities in the terrain, infiltrated 
into the Legion's position and attempted to turn it. 

The Legionnaires resisted vigorously. Jack Moyet went 
with another Legionnaire and a corporal into a village which it 
was desired that the Germans should consider strongly occu- 
pied. The enemy advanced in considerable numbers; with their 
machine-gun rifles Moyet and his two comrades stood them off, 
killing and wounding many, until their ammunition was ex- 
hausted, whereupon they fell back safely and rejoined their 

Captain Riboville was surrounded with his company in Vaux- 
buin village; the Legionnaires cut their way out with the naked 
bayonet. Commandant Germann, whose battalion occupied 
the first line of resistance, was killed, but his men held their 
ground. The efforts of the enemy to break through became 
more furious in the afternoon, but were every one repulsed. 
The Legion's supply of cartridges was exhausted, and for a 
while the situation looked black, but ammunition carts finally 
arrived and pushed right up into the front line of defense. 

The German losses were enormous; among the dead were 
found soldiers from three different regiments. The onsets 
stopped after six o'clock in the afternoon, but all through the 
night the enemy attempted in vain to turn the Legion's position 
by infiltration on the left flank. Throughout the following day 
the Legionnaires were subjected to a violent bombardment and 
machine-gun fire, but they did not yield an inch of terrain. 
Their losses were severe, and during the night of May 31, the 
Legion was relieved by a French regiment. 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

Jack Moyet was again cited in the Order of the Day. On 
reconnaissance in the edge of Soissons with Lieutenant Doxat, 
the latter was shot through the body; Moyet picked him up and 
under a heavy fire carried him four kilometres to a field dressing- 
post. Moyet was himself painfully wounded by a bullet later 
in the fighting, and was carried away to the hospital. 

Nevin Hardwick, an American Red Cross automobilist, ac- 
companied Commandant Germann's battalion as volunteer 
stretcher-bearer, and helped bring in wounded Legionnaires 
from between the lines. A German officer came upon Hard- 
wick as he was picking up a badly hit man, and summoned him 
to surrender. The American turned and shot down the Teuton 
with a revolver. A short while later, Hardwick was wounded 
by a shell-splinter. Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet awarded him the 
Croix de Guerre for his brave conduct. 

For the first five days and nights of June, the Legion marched 
and fought back and forth across the plateau west of Soissons, 
stopping gaps wherever they occurred in the French line of de- 
fense. June 5 found the Legionnaires holding the sector facing 
the Saint-Bandry Ravine, from the heights beyond which the 
Germans dominated their position. 

At four o'clock on the morning of June 12, the Germans 
launched a large-scale push toward the gap between the Com- 
piegne and Villers-Cotterets forests. The front-line machine- 
gunners and riflemen of the Legion stopped short the onslaught 
of the enemy along their sector, and wiped out numerous small 
groups that attempted to infiltrate along Ambleny Brook. 
Supported by artillery fire, the Germans insisted upon trying 
to pass the Legion's line, but succeeded only in increasing their 
own losses. 

The line regiment to the right of the Legion was driven back 
toward Laversine later in the morning, however, and the Ger- 
mans installed themselves in Courtanson Wood and from there 
threatened the Legion's flank. The company of Legionnaires 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

holding Courtanson village was reenforced, and held their 
ground until two o'clock in the afternoon, when three com- 
panies of Algerian tirailleurs arrived, and reestablished the 
liaison with the French division to the right. 

The Germans had not gained a foot of terrain along the Le- 
gion's front, which for several hours had stretched out over 
three kilometres. 

Victor Coat, a Legionnaire from Brittany, wrote to Jack 
Moyet, who was in the hospital: 'We have done good work since 
you left. The Boches attacked on June 11, and their dead lie 
strewn before our trenches. Sergeant Stich, Borgeaud, and I 
were on a volunteer patrol at 6 a.m., June 12. In the woods 
where the Boches were trying to infiltrate we came across a 
group of twenty-two "kamerades." Three rifle shots, three 
Square Heads in the air, one jump, and the nineteen others are 
ours, with two machine guns. As felicitations we are proposed 
for the Medaille Militaire.' 

On June 16, the Legion was relieved by the Eighth Zouaves, 
and went into camp at Champlieu, in the forest of Compiegne. 
Reinforcements arrived — the first since the Hangard Wood 
battle — and the regiment was reconstituted and built up to a 
strength of twenty-seven hundred men. Among the new ar- 
rivals were numerous Frenchmen; not many foreign volunteers 
were enlisting in the Legion, although a fair number were still 
coming from Spain and Switzerland. The mobilization and 
epidemic of grippe in the latter country had kept at home many 
men who otherwise would have enlisted under the French flag. 
There was a detachment of two hundred and fifty Russians, 
men who had come to France in 191 6 with the regiments sent by 
the Czar, and who had remained true to the Allied cause when 
their comrades mutinied upon receiving news of the Bolshevist 
Revolution. Many of them had been officers, but, handicapped 
by not speaking French, they came to the Legion as privates. 
Other detachments of Russians were put with the Fourth Al- 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

gerian Tirailleurs and the Eighth Zouaves, which had suffered 
as severely as the Legion during the battles waged by the 
Moroccan Division. 

The records at French Army Grand Headquarters showed 
the composition of the Marching Regiment of the Legion in 
June, 1 91 8, to include three Americans; twenty Argentineans; 
seven Brazilians; three Canadians; seven Chileans; one Co- 
lombian; one Cuban; one Mexican; one Nicaraguan; two Pe- 
ruvians; four Filipinos; two Uruguayans; two Venezuelans; 
three hundred and twenty-five Spaniards; one hundred and 
sixty-six Luxembourgers; one hundred and fifty-nine Italians; 
five hundred and nineteen Swiss; one hundred and nineteen 
Greeks; nine hundred and five Frenchmen; one hundred and 
ten Czechs; seventeen Poles; thirty-nine Armenians; twelve 
Germans; four Austrians; two Bulgarians; and a certain number 
of Turks and other Europeans, Asiatics, and Africans. 

On July 5, the Legion went back into line near Saint-Pierre- 
Aigle, in the northernmost corner of Villers-Cotterets Forest. 
Reconnaissances and coups de main were executed continually: 
there was much grim fighting between small patrols in the 
thick underbrush of the forest, and the Legion's position was 
strengthened and bettered day by day. 

The Moroccan Division formed part of General Mangin's 
Tenth Army, which comprised some of the very finest attack 
units of the entire French forces. Villers-Cotterets Forest be- 
gan to teem with soldiers representing every branch of the 
service, and to swarm with activity like an ant-heap. Under the 
sombre shade of towering trees, whose interlocking branches 
forbade all observation from enemy aeroplanes, a mighty force 
was being gathered together, a force mighty in spirit as well as 
in numbers. War material and supplies needed by the waiting 
warriors were also accumulating. The vast forest, covering 
thousands of acres of hills and valleys and situated at a vital 
point facing the German right flank, was an ideal position from 

33 1 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

which to hurl forth a stupendous surprise attack against the 
enemy. The latter had made stern efforts in June to occupy 
this great natural stronghold, but had succeeded only in lopping 
off some of the outlying spurs of trees, while the French clung 
tenaciously to the main body of the forest. 

From the night of July 13 on, the throng of battalions hidden 
amongst the trees grew denser. No movement was made by 
troops anywhere behind this part of the front during the day- 
time, but under cover of darkness divisions of infantry and 
cavalry, groups of heavy and field artillery, battalions of tanks 
and engineers, moved up and concealed themselves at strategic 
points not far behind the front battle-line. The First and Sec- 
ond American Divisions arrived from the region of Meaux, and 
went into reserve just behind the Moroccan Division. The 
Legionnaires knew that something big was afoot, and felt that 
whatever it was, they had good company all along the line. 

The Germans, as had been expected by the French chiefs, 
attacked with fury along a wide front in Champagne on July 15, 
were checked almost all along the line, but managed to beat 
their way across the Marne between Dormans and Jaulgonne, 
and gained a footing on Reims Mountain and along the wooded 
plateaus south of the river around Dormans. The Marne pocket 
was thus deepened, and Marshal Foch telephoned General 
Petain to hasten preparations for the flank attack by Mangin's 
and Degoutte's armies. General Mangin announced to his 
men: 'The moment has arrived to shake off for all time the mud 
of the trenches.' 

At nightfall of July 17, the formidable flow of troops toward 
the northern and eastern edges of Villers-Cotterets Forest re- 
doubled in intensity. The French were favored by the breaking 
of a great storm, the noise of which drowned all sound of the 
movement of men, horses, tanks, and artillery, and thus enabled 
them to arrive in the advanced lines without being remarked by 
the Germans. 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

The attack began at dawn on July 18, without any artillery 
preparation. The infantrymen advanced, accompanied by light 
and heavy tanks, and preceded by a barrage of shell-fire. Cap- 
tain de Lannurien's battalion led the onslaught of the Legion- 
naires, and swept everything before it. Germans were captured 
while rubbing the sleep out of their eyes; others were taken as 
they went out with scythes to harvest the wheat French peas- 
ants had left standing in their fields when they fled from the 
Teutons in the spring. 

The two other battalions, led by Commandants Marseille 
and Jacquesson, fought their way out of the edge of the forest 
they had been holding, and turning toward the south drove the 
enemy from his works near Chaudun. Around La Glaux Farm 
the Germans put up a stiff resistance with machine guns, field 
pieces, and anti-tank cannon. Three tanks were destroyed, but 
the Legionnaires stormed the trenches and killed all the gun- 
ners at their pieces. 

The advance continued throughout the afternoon, the night, 
and the day of the 19th; the Legionnaires by now fighting along- 
side 'doughboys' from the First and Second American Divi- 
sions, Zouaves and Colonial riflemen. Commandant Marseille 
fell wounded, and was replaced by Commandant de Sampigny, 
just returned from the hospital. 

The Second Brigade had been held up in front of the Chazelle- 
Lechelle Ravine since noon of the 19th, and the First and Sec- 
ond Battalions of the Legion were ordered to march toward 
Buzancy and turn the ravine. This movement took place dur- 
ing the night, and at two o'clock on the morning of the 20th, the 
ravine was captured and its defenders slaughtered. Aconin 
village and Gerard Wood were captured in a sharp fight, and 
numerous prisoners made. The advance progressed, and by 
nine o'clock two companies of Legionnaires reached the Sois- 
sons-Chateau-Thierry highroad. 

Ludendorff halted all efforts to progress south of the Marne, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

ordered a withdrawal to the north bank of the river, and threw 
every available reserve into the new battle Marshal Foch had 
forced upon him. Battalions of these fresh troops attacked the 
Legion at ten o'clock on the morning of the 20th, but failed to 
drive the Legionnaires back. Other counter-attacks were at- 
tempted at noon and at four in the afternoon; the battalions of 
Jacquesson and de Lannurien suffered enormous losses, but 
held their ground, and killed such numbers of the enemy that 
the Germans realized the uselessness of tackling the Legion and 
stopped attempting to break through its line. During the fight- 
ing, Commandant de Sampigny, whose battalion was in reserve, 
was killed. He was one of the few officers left in the Legion from 
1914, had participated in all the battles of the regiment, and 
had been three times wounded. 

The fighting slowed down toward dark; the French troops 
were exhausted by their rapid advance, and took a breathing 
spell, while the Germans thought only of getting safely out of 
the pocket they had failed to widen and which had almost 
proved a death-trap. General Petain sent fresh divisions to re- 
enforce the Armies of Mangin and Degoutte, and during the 
night of the 20th, the Legion was relieved. It had furnished three 
days and nights of continuous fighting, without a wink of sleep, 
and this after ten days of watchfulness and hard work in the 
trenches. Its losses had been great: seven hundred and eighty 
men hors de combat , and the survivors had need of hot food, re- 
pose, and slumber. 

General Daugan, Commander of the Moroccan Division, re- 
sumed the work accomplished by his troops in the following 
General Order: 

The Moroccan Division has just participated in one of the most 
brilliant offensives launched against the enemy and has added new 
laurels to those, already so numerous, gathered since four years on the 
French front. 

Departing from a terrain difficult, wooded, full of ravines, ener- 


The Legion Saves Amiens 

getically defended, covered with mitrailleuses; having almost two 
kilometres to cover in the forest of Villers-Cotterets, before getting 
out upon the open plateau; Zouaves, Legionnaires, Algerian, Sene- 
galese, and Malagasy tirailleurs, in a formidable dash, supported by 
an active artillery and numerous assault chariots(tanks), have bowled 
over the enemy, gained some eleven kilometres in depth, cut the high- 
way from Soissons to Chateau-Thierry, made over fifteen hundred 
prisoners, captured fifty cannon with munitions and machine guns 
in considerable number, leaving the terrain covered with German 

General Mangin cited the Legion in the Order of the Day: 

A magnificent regiment, which, under the orders of its chief, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Rollet, during the difficult period from May 28 to 
July 20, 191 8, has heightened its reputation by its valiance, its energy, 
and its tenacity. May 30 and 31, stopped short the enemy onrush and 
maintained integrally its positions (on the Montagne de Paris). June 
12, with extremely reduced effectives, succeeded in breaking an attack 
made by an enemy vastly superior in number and caused the enemy 
considerable losses (at Ambleny and Saint-Bandry). July 18, stormed, 
with a marvellous enthusiasm, a succession of powerfully fortified 
positions (on Dommiers Plateau). Thus attained at a single bound its 
objective situated nearly four kilometres from the first lines, capturing 
over four hundred and fifty prisoners, twenty cannon, and a consid- 
erable number of machine guns and mine-throwers. During the night 
of July 19 to 20, put to use yet another time its incomparable ma- 
noeuvring qualities in turning from the north a ravine (Chazelle- 
Lechelle), where the enemy had accumulated numerous defenses, 
causing to fall all the resistance points and realizing thus an advance 
of almost eleven kilometres. Maintained itself with energy upon the 
conquered position despite the violent enemy counter-attacks. 

Chapter XX 


The Legion went into camp first at Hardivillers, then at 
Campremy, where it had already been in January, 1916. 
Its ranks were again reenforced with Russians and 
Frenchmen, together with veterans of the regiment who had 
been in hospital with wounds. There was intensive drilling and 
training in the new kind of warfare in the open that had come 
into being. Monsieur Clemenceau, Premier and Minister of 
War, visited the corps on August 20, and complimented it on its 
glorious reputation. 

On August 27, the Legion was transported in motor-trucks to 
Banru Ravine, and from there marched to Nouvron-Vingre, 
whence, during the night of the 28th, it went into position 
farther north of the Aisne behind an American division, which 
attacked the following morning toward Terny-Sorny. 

The Americans — regiments from the Middle West but lately 
arrived in France — were badly cut up, and held in check by 
the Germans before Juvigny. The Legion took over the line on 
September 1, attacked at two o'clock on the afternoon of Sep- 
tember 2, and rapidly drove back the enemy across the open 
waste east of Beaumont. The Soissons-Bethune highway was 
reached, but there the Legionnaires were enfiladed by machine 
guns to the right, where the Germans still held a wood, which 
the troops attacking alongside the Legion had failed to cap- 

Captain de Lannurien, commander of the battalion leading 
the attack, led his men on across the road, and at a heavy cost 
took the summit of the plateau east of Sorny. German ma- 



chine guns concealed in sunken roadbeds opened fire; Captain 
de Lannurien was killed and his men were obliged to dig them- 
selves in, with Captain Sanchez-Carrero now their leader. 
Commandant Jacquesson's battalion following closely behind 
was also forced to take cover, while Commandant M aire's re- 
serve battalion advanced to a waiting position. 

The situation was troublesome; to the right a battalion of 
Russians and Malagasies had taken Terny village, but found 
themselves blocked there. The German mitrailleuses and mine- 
throwers redoubled in activity, and prepared a counter-attack, 
which was easily repulsed by Jacquesson's Legionnaires. The 
Fifty-Ninth Infantry Division advanced to the right of the 
Legion, and the position was organized and maintained all 
along the line. 

From September 3 on, the battle did not cease for an instant. 
General Mangin intended to smash the Hindenburg Line and 
occupy the Coucy and Saint-Gobain Forests, and the German 
Supreme Command consented to every sacrifice that the great 
bastion of the Hindenburg position might be held. The French 
advance was slow and painful, and every step forward was 
bought with blood. General Mangin literally hurled his men 
against the enemy's positions; to every report of regimental 
commanders that their troops were exhausted and could not 
go farther, he simply replied that they must continue on- 

The French fought their way forward, and in the front line of 
progression was the Legion. On September 4, Commandant 
Maire's battalion captured Sorny village; Neuville-sur-Margi- 
val was stormed on the 5th, and during the night the long rail- 
way tunnel toward Vauxaillon was reached. The struggle for 
the commanding Laffaux Plateau began; the Germans were in- 
stalled there in deep defensive works, with innumerable block- 
houses and machine-gun nests, which had to be reduced one by 
one with bayonet, grenade, and trench-dagger. In broad day- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

light Maire's battalion captured by infiltration Sorny Ravine 
and the powerful fortifications in its banks, but were held there 
by machine-gun fire from commanding positions. 

Charging through the early morning mists on September 14, 
the Third Battalion of Legionnaires by a supreme call on their 
energies swept away the opposing machine-gun nests, and 
hammered their way through the last resistance points of the 
Hindenburg Line. So impetuous was their onslaught that they 
arrived at the shelters of the reserve line before the Germans 
there knew of the attack. Double their own number of prisoners 
were captured, including the entire staff of the Kronprinz 
Wilhelm Regiment. 

Captain Sanchez-Carrero's battalion conquered an hour later 
the heights and the village of Allemant, while Jacquesson es- 
tablished his men at Piquet and assured the flanks against all 

The Germans brought up all the reserves they could find in 
the sector, and after an intense artillery preparation made a de- 
termined attempt to wrest from the Legion its gains. The 
Legionnaires by a brilliant counter-charge drove them back in 
disorder, and retained intact the conquered terrain. The Ger- 
man losses were so terrible that the night and following day 
were comparatively calm. During the night of September 15, 
the Legion was relieved by fresh troops, who continued the 
drive forward. 

Never before in all its history had the Legion been called 
upon for such a prolonged and heavy effort. With no rest, with 
its food supply service almost non-existent, faced by a desperate 
and determined foe armed with every known weapon of de- 
fense and offense, it had fought its way across one of the most 
difficult terrains ever utilized in warfare, and smashed the 
proudest and strongest position of the German armies. It had 
paid a heavy toll for its success; almost half its effective had 
fallen. Ten officers were killed, one of them the Venezuelan, 



Captain Sanchez-Carrero, who was shot through the head by a 
bullet fired from a German aeroplane whose pilot flew low over 
the Legionnaires and machine-gunned them during the very final 
hour of the battle. Carrero was once a lieutenant-colonel on the 
staff of President Castro, and enlisted in the Legion as a lieu- 
tenant in August, 1914. He had been wounded several times, 
and had recently rejoined the Legion after three months' con- 
valescence leave of absence spent in Venezuela. Lieutenant de 
Montgomery, a Belgian volunteer of 1914, was another of the 

Alfred Gerl Bustillos was gassed and badly burned about the 
face by a flame-thrower during the struggle for Laffaux Plateau, 
and was cited in the Order of the Day for the third time. Mar- 
ius Philippe, who had distinguished himself in every 191 8 battle 
of the Legion, won his fourth citation in Army Orders, and Jack 
Moyet was promoted corporal. Several of the men in the squad 
placed under his orders were former Russian officers, one of 
them a colonel. The acts of heroism performed by Legionnaires 
were almost countless, and many decorations were awarded 
the men. 

General Mangin cited the Legion in the Order of the Day as 
follows : 

An elite regiment, which, in the course of the operations from Au- 
gust l~i to September 16, 1918, under the command of its remarkable 
chief, Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet, has affirmed yet another time its 
high military qualities. September 2, despising the cross-fire of the 
mitrailleuses which cut down its waves of assault, it progressed to its 
objective, which it reached and organized; it maintained itself there, 
repulsing powerful counter-attacks. From the 3d to 13th September, 
by incessant combats, day and night, in an atmosphere saturated 
with gas, under violent bombardments and storms of machine-gun 
fire, foot by foot, with the grenade, it pushed its lines in advance by an 
effort of an heroic constancy. September 14, with an admirable im- 
petuosity, after twelve days of very hard struggle, it captured one of 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

the salients reputed impregnable of the Hindenburg Line; gathering 
there more than five hundred prisoners, cannon, and a great quantity 
of material. 


The weary remnants of the Legion, almost dazed by the 
realization that they had escaped alive from the long days and 
nights of hellish fighting, slowly made their way back behind 
the battle zone, and rested, first at Rosieres-aux-Salines, then at 
Saulxures-les-Nancy, in Lorraine. Volunteers were asked for in 
all the French regiments, as had already been done several 
times, to serve in the Legion, and its three battalions were re- 
constituted to the strength of about five hundred men each. 

As a further recognition of the Legion's valor, Marshal Petain 
created for it a double fourragere, in the colors of the Legion 
d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. 

On October 29, the regiment went into the trenches around 
Champenoux. The lines were exactly the same as they had 
been in 1914, and the sector was calm. But the Legion and the 
Moroccan Division were not there for nothing: General de 
Castelnau was preparing a gigantic offensive in Lorraine, which 
was to capture the mighty stronghold of Metz, sweep north, 
and, taking from behind the German forces in Belgium, cut 
them off from the Rhine, thereby inflicting a defeat so crushing 
that the military strength of Germany would be broken for a 
century to come. To obtain this victory without precedent in 
history, thirty-one choice French divisions and a host of Amer- 
ican units were being massed in Lorraine, with a profusion of 
munitions and material never before seen. 

The Legionnaires prepared to celebrate the third birthday of 
the Regiment de Marche de la Legion tttrangere on November 1 1, 
191 8, by a large-scale coup de main on the enemy position in the 
early hours of the morning. At the last moment, the orders 
were countermanded. The Germans had thrown up their hands 



and pleaded for mercy, an armistice was signed, and the war 
was at an end. 

There was no rejoicing among the men in the trenches. It 
was difficult to believe that one could go out into the open with- 
out risk of being shot down, and the absence of sound of rifle and 
cannon along the front was strange; such a quiet, after so many- 
years of din, seemed abnormal. Those who grasped the situa- 
tion regretted that the fighting could not have continued for a 
short time longer, so as to thrash the foe beyond all possibility 
of discussion, and thereby end the war for at least some decades 
to come. 

The Legionnaires camped on their position, and awaited 
with impatience the moment to cross No Man's Land and enter 
reconquered Lorraine on their march to the Rhine. Because of 
the prodigies of heroism it had performed and the marvellous 
victories it had won, the Moroccan Division was accorded the 
envied honor of being the first in its sector to cross the old 
German lines and start the triumphant Allied march forward. 
Of this epic event Paul Rockwell wrote from French Army 
Grand Headquarters on November 17: 

'The Moroccan Division, which won more honors upon hard- 
fought battlefields than any other corps engaged in the World 
War now so triumphantly ended, had the signal distinction of 
being the first Allied division to march across the late frontier 
and enter liberated Lorraine. Its first halt was at Chateau- 
Salins. There a wonderfully enthusiastic reception was given 
the troops by the population, which, although oppressed by the 
Prussian conquerors throughout forty-eight years, had re- 
mained French in heart and sympathy. 

'With General Daugan and his soldiers I entered Chateau- 
Salins, and never before have I witnessed such an impressive, 
heart-stirring scene as the joy displayed by the Lorrainers at the 
arrival of their liberators. The Legionnaires, Zouaves, and 
North African tirailleurs composing the Moroccan Division had 


( American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

been in line in the sector near the Lorraine frontier some days 
before the Armistice was signed. They remained in the trenches 
and the destroyed villages while the Germans were preparing 
for their departure beyond the Rhine. The last important de- 
tachments of German troops quitted Lorraine on Friday and 
Saturday, and then the French prepared to enter. 

'Every man of the Moroccan Division cleaned up his uni- 
form and equipment as if for a grand review, and no corps ever 
presented a finer aspect than General Daugan's warriors when 
they swung into line across the hills toward Chateau-Salins at 
dawn on Sunday. Army engineers had repaired the blown-up 
roads and the destroyed bridges throughout the whole combat 
zone, so that the long columns of soldiers marched vigorously 
to the end, their progress uninterrupted by the dense mazes of 
barbed-wire entanglements, deep trenches and boyaux, where 
the Germans so recently had opposed them. 

'The route wound up and down the hills past numerous bat- 
tery emplacements and concrete blockhouses, the reduction of 
which and their capture by assault would have cost thousands 
of lives. Leaving behind the shell-pocked battle zone and the 
shapeless masses of bricks and stone that once had been villages, 
the victorious troops traversed a fertile region abounding in 
cultivated vineyards and hop fields. Then from the top of a 
hill, Chateau-Salins was sighted, and at the same moment a 
number of youths mounted on bicycles, who had ridden out 
from the town, appeared wearing tri-color cockades and shout- 
ing, " Vive la France!" 

'Arab scouts, riding fleet horses and looking most picturesque 
in their Colonial costumes, with flowing capes, first entered 
Chateau-Salins, explored the streets, and thoroughly searched 
for German stragglers. They found and took in charge four 
German officers, stalwart-appearing youths, who, it developed, 
had stayed behind formally to surrender to the French the 
German cannon and stores remaining in the region. Then 




A review of the entire Moroccan Division 


General Daugan and his staff, followed by a large troop of Arab 
Spahis, all on horseback, appeared and rode to the town square 
and drew up around the divisional pennant. 

'By this time the entire population was in the streets. From 
every window French flags, most of them home-made, of paper, 
silk, old skirts, and any material available, waved in the breeze. 
A French army automobile arrived, from which officers dis- 
tributed hundreds of Allied flags and tri-colored ornaments to 
the swarms of eager children. Many of the girls and women 
were dressed in the quaint old Lorraine costume and added a 
pleasing note to the scene. Many people were weeping from joy 
and telling how they had suffered under German dominion and 
how happy they were once again to become French. Now came 
the sound of bugles and soon the Eighth Zouave Regiment, 
headed by its band, arrived. 

'The band halted opposite General Daugan and his staff and 
played while company after company of Zouaves marched past. 
The enthusiasm of the Lorrainers was unbounded and cheer 
after cheer greeted the soldiers. The Zouaves were some time in 
marching past, and then came the divisional artillery, engi- 
neers, and other services. 

'A little while later the Foreign Legion came across the hill 
and entered Chateau-Salins. Colonel Rollet, his breast covered 
with medals and his sword drawn, rode at the head of his Le- 
gionnaires. Behind him came the Legion's band and the Le- 
gion's battle-flag, which was decorated with the Cross of the 
Legion of Honor and the War Cross with nine palms and three 
stars, representing twelve citations in the Order of the Day — 
more citations than had ever been won before by any fighting 
corps. On arriving where General Daugan and his staff were on 
horseback, Colonel Rollet dismounted, and, taking the Le- 
gion's flag, held it while the Legionnaires filed past. The spec- 
tators crowded near as the volunteer fighters of every race, 
creed, and social condition, representing five-score countries, 


Afnerican Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and whose exploits are renowned throughout the world, went 
by. Far in the background a group of sleek-looking individuals, 
German officers and officials who had stopped on their way to 
Nancy to surrender the railways of Alsace-Lorraine, regarded 
the Legionnaires with angry glares. It was one of Fate's fit- 
ting ironies that the high representatives of the nation that so 
hates the Legion should see that corps at its hour of greatest 

'The be-medalled Legionnaires marched by proudly erect, 
with that look in the eye which only comes with the conscious- 
ness of duty well performed. In the ranks were perhaps fifty 
survivors from 1914, among them the Persian prince, Karaman 
Khan Nazare-Aga, a volunteer private at the outbreak of the 
war, and now a captain and the "ace" of the regiment, wearing 
the rosette of an Officer of the Legion of Honor and the War 
Cross with ten citations. Corporal Jack Moyet passed, looking 
very boyish at the head of his squad of grizzled veterans. And 
more and more nameless heroes, one after the other. 

'When the last company of Legionnaires had passed, General 
Daugan approached and kissed the Legion's flag. Immediately 
Colonel Rollet was surrounded by a throng of women and chil- 
dren and men, who embraced the banner with reverence and 
affection. The Legion's band began playing La Marseillaise 
and the refrain was taken up by a group of old men, some of 
them veterans of the War of 1870. It was an emotional hour, 
and the gladness of the Lorrainers was so plainly genuine that 
every spectator felt a lump in his throat and no one remained 


The Legion continued its triumphant march through Lor- 
raine, and on December 1 entered the Palatinate. Passing by 
Zweibriicken, Kaiserslautern, and other cities, it arrived on 
December 8 at Frankenthal, and went into cantonment there 



and in the environs. It kept an eye on the movements of the 
remnants of the late German Army in Ludwigshafen and Mann- 
heim, and in its turn mounted die Wacht am Rhein. The corps, 
so long and so often reviled by the Germans, was at last, by a 
return of immanent justice, installed in the very heart of Ger- 
man territory. 

The flag of the Regiment de Marche de la Legion Etrangere was 
decorated with the Medaille Militaire with a supreme citation: 

An heroic regiment, which its love for France and its legendary- 
bravery have placed in the first rank. 

In the course of the epic period of 191 8 and under the orders of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet, after having broken, at Hangard-en-San- 
terre Wood, April 26, the German march upon Amiens; after having, 
from the 28 th to the 31st of May, preserved against the furious as- 
saults of the enemy its positions along the Montagne de Paris, to the 
west of Soissons; after having brought to naught, on June 12, the 
efforts of an entire German division around Ambleny and Saint- 
Bandry; took up again its offensive traditions on July 18, bowled over 
the enemy along a depth of eleven kilometres, to the east of the forest 
of Villers-Cotterets. 

And finally, from September 2 to 14, after twelve days of epic strug- 
gle, it broke the Hindenburg Line, upon the Laffaux Plateau, captur- 
ing an entire regiment. 

Was preparing fresh victories in Lorraine when sounded the hour of 
the Armistice. 

The volunteers for the duration of the war, by now reduced 
in number to six hundred and fifty, were liberated in February, 
1 919, and in March the Regiment de Marche de la Legion 
Etrangere left the Army of the Rhine and went to North Africa. 
The eight hundred men who had enrolled for five years' service 
in the Legion became the nucleus around which was formed the 
Third Foreign Regiment, with its depot at Fez. The Troisieme 
Etrangere inherited the glorious battle-flag and the double 
Jourragere of the Regiment de Marche, along with the traditions, 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

and worthily upheld them during the righting in the Rif, the 
Tdche de Taza, and other campaigns in Morocco. 

The official records of the French War Office show that forty- 
four thousand one hundred and fifty officers and men served in 
the Foreign Legion in France during the World War. They are 
listed as coming from exactly one hundred countries, ranging 
from Abyssinia to Venezuela, from such tiny specks in the 
ocean as Saint Lucy on up to the mighty island continent 
Australia. Some lands, such as Panama and Paraguay, Hong- 
kong and Gibraltar, sent one volunteer; Spain, Greece, Switzer- 
land, Russia, Belgium contributed thousands each, while Italy 
led with six thousand four hundred and sixty-three volunteer 

The total number of Legionnaires killed and wounded was 
less than eleven thousand, with almost none taken prisoner. In 
comparison with the number of effectives engaged, the casual- 
ties of the Legion were less than those of many of the French 
line regiments, some of which lost thirty or forty thousand men 
in the course of the campaign. These comparatively light losses 
were due to the high quality of the officers commanding the 
Legion, and to the valuable experience already gained in Colo- 
nial campaigns by the veteran Legionnaires and grades who 
leavened the mass of volunteers for the war's duration. 

Gerald Campbell, the distinguished English war-correspond- 
ent attached to French Army Grand Headquarters, who often 
saw the Legion at the task, called the corps a 'Legion of Ideal- 

'They are a new type of conscientious objectors,' he wrote. 
'Their conscience objects to the terms of slavery that Germany 
wishes to impose on the rest of the world.' 

Campbell was right. The glory of the Regiment de Marche de 
la Legion Etr anger e was won because the corps was made up of 
men who wanted to fight and who believed in the cause for 
which they fought. 

Chapter XXI 


Tames Bach and Frank Musgrave returned from captivity 
1 in Germany a few weeks after the Armistice. Bach was de- 
*J corated with the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre^ 
his citation reading: 

Of American nationality, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion and ac- 
complished valiantly his duty as an infantryman. Passed into the 
Aviation, he became in very little time an excellent military pilot, 
giving proof of intelligence, of courage, of sang-froid, and of skill. 
September 23, 191 5, he solicited the honor of being designated for a 
perillous mission. He fulfilled it, and was made prisoner for having 
wished to save his comrade. 

Musgrave went back to America, with his health badly im- 
paired, while Bach remained in Paris, where he was for a time 
an American Vice-Consul. Later, he became representative in 
France of an important American firm of automobile manu- 

A decree of October 1, 1918, had made it possible to bestow 
posthumously the Legion of Honor and the Medaille Militaire 
upon officers and men killed in battle, when cited by their chiefs. 
The Legion of Honor was awarded to Kiffin Yates Rockwell, and 
the Medaille Militaire to Edward Mandell Stone, Henry Weston 
Farnsworth, Kenneth Weeks, John Charton, Russell Kelly, 
Victor Chapman, Nelson Larsen, Alan Seeger, Elov Nilson, 
Guy Agostini, Harmon Hall, Frank Whitmore, Jack Janz, and 
other fallen Legionnaires. 

Christopher Charles and Eugene Jacob spent several months 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

in Germany as members of the American Army of Occupation. 
Charles was demobilized in Europe, and worked for three years 
in a machine shop in Paris, before returning to America, where 
he took a prosaic job as street-car conductor in Brooklyn. Jacob 
went back to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, but found that his 
business there had been captured by the stay-at-homes. His 
health became poor, and he removed to Mendon, Massachu- 
setts, and started a poultry farm. 

O. L. McLellan returned to New Orleans, and there was de- 
corated with the Legion of Honor by the French Consul-Gen- 

Lawrence Scanlan died from his old 191 5 wounds on Novem- 
ber 25, 1921. He had thought his injuries were entirely healed, 
and was operating a wholesale slaughter-house in New York, 
when suddenly the wounds became painful and opened up. He 
was rushed to the hospital and the leg was amputated; in an 
effort to save his life eight operations were performed in a single 
month, the leg being cut away higher up each time, but Scanlan 
was too weakened to resist death longer. 

William E. Dugan died in September, 1922, in the hospital at 
Patchogue, Long Island, his birthplace, following an operation 
for septicaemia contracted in South American jungles. He had 
returned to Central and South America after the World War as 
explorer and resident manager for the United Fruit Company, 
and his wife and child died of tropical fever in Costa Rica. 
Dugan gained considerable attention several weeks before his 
death, when he refuted the claim of the explorer Marsh that he 
had discovered a race of white Indians in the Panama jungles. 
Dugan stated that he had crossed time and again the jungles 
where Professor Marsh had been, and contradicted the latter's 
claim that no white man from a civilized country had ever 
penetrated that region. 

Algernon Sartoris died at Saint-Nazaire, France, where he 
had been living in retirement for some years, in January, 1928, 


After the War 

and Oscar Mouvet, who after the war managed night clubs in 
Paris, died in January, 1930, of tuberculosis, in the Pyrenees. 

Jack Casey died on April 25, 1930, of pneumonia and heart 
failure, in New York. He had found Montparnasse spoiled 
after the war, and sought inspiration for his painting in Cuba 
and Spain, before deciding to locate in New York, where he won 
success as an illustrator. He was born on May 4, 1878, in San 

Charles Sweeny acted as war-correspondent for a New York 
newspaper during the Greco-Turkish War in 1922; he and 
Paul Rockwell served with the French Aviation in Morocco 
during the 1925 campaign against Abd el Krim and the Riffian 

Of all the American Legionnaires, Edgar Bouligny perhaps 
led the most interesting life after the end of the war. He was 
demobilized in America, but after a visit to New Orleans, where 
he was accorded a triumphant reception, he returned to Paris 
and worked for a time as a photographer. Then he went to 
America, and drove a covered wagon, drawn by a pair of mules, 
across the continent from New Orleans to Long Beach, Cali- 
fornia, taking photographs along the way. He then bought an 
old Ford automobile for forty dollars, drove it across the north- 
ern part of the United States, without spending a cent for re- 
pairs, to Jersey City, where he sold it to a Jew for thirty-five 

Bouligny next returned to France, but, finding conditions 
greatly changed there, embarked on a slow freight vessel at 
Marseille and worked his way around the Mediterranean and 
part of Africa. Going back to America, he visited in automo- 
biles the most picturesque parts of the United States, Canada, 
and Mexico, and sent photographs to numerous travel and 
geographical publications. His numerous wounds and priva- 
tions suffered during the war made an outdoor life necessary for 
his health. 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

Almost all the American volunteer fighters slipped back into 
civilian life with comparative ease: 

Allen Blount became a poultry farmer near Paris; Brooke 
Bonnell went back to his stock-broker's office in Wall Street, 
John Bowe occupied himself with veterans' welfare work and 
politics in Minnesota, and was one of the leaders in the defeat 
for reelection of Congressman Volstead. Charles Beaumont, 
who after leaving the Legion became a French citizen and re- 
joined the French Army, winning the Legion of Honor, the 
Croix de Guerre with several citations, and the rank of captain, 
as a member of the counter-spy service in Macedonia, ran a 
ladies' silk underwear factory in Paris, exporting his goods 
mostly to the United States. Stewart Carstairs painted pictures 
in Japan and other exotic lands. George Delpeuch remained 
in Paris, first attached to a large tourist agency, and later in 
the automobile business. Herman Chatkoff went back to his 
family in 191 9, but they were obliged to place him in an insane 
asylum. The American Legion took an interest in his case, and 
he was put in the United States Veterans' Bureau Hospital, 
at Perryville, Maryland. When he was discharged from that 
institution, the American Legion still took care of him, and 
finally got a bill through Congress, granting Chatkoff a spe- 
cial pension from the United States Government. John Hop- 
per reopened his office in Paris as a mining and consulting 
engineer, and exploited coal mines and brick factories in 
France. He suffered periodically from his injured spine, and 
more than once feared that he would become a permanent 
invalid. David King located in Paris as a writer. Nick Kara- 
yinis went back to New York and operated a restaurant 
there. Fred Landreaux returned to the stage, and acted with 
provincial stock companies as often as his health permitted. 
He later became a travelling salesman for a French manufac- 
turing concern. Arthur C. Watson, after working in the Old 
Dartmouth Museum at New Bedford for several years, be- 


After the War 

came a professor of English at the Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology. Robert Percy got a job as delivery-man for a 
Paris dressmaker, and Tony Paullet became valet to a New 
York millionaire. Alvan Sanborn bought a home in a Paris 
suburb, and resumed his old work as writer and newspaper 
correspondent. Bob Scanlon was unfitted for the boxing ring 
by his wounded hand, but was often seen in sporting circles 
around Paris, until he was shot and badly injured by a jealous 
woman. Robert Soubiran returned to America for several 
years, then came to Paris as manager of the French branch 
of a big American electrical corporation. William Thaw set- 
tled in Pittsburgh, and was active in aeronautical affairs in 
the United States. Henry Walker became a taxicab driver in 

Fred Zinn went home to Battle Creek, Michigan, and entered 
the business world as a manufacturer of dairy and poultry feeds; 
he finally had a market for his products as far afield as Panama 
and Porto Rico, Honduras and Venezuela. Like many of his 
comrades in the Legion, he has not been back to France since 
the World War ended for him, and he might have been voic- 
ing their ideas when he wrote, in a letter dated January 23, 

'When I come to analyze the apparent lack of desire to get to 
France, I think it is more than anything else due to a desire 
to keep my illusions as long as I can. Barring those first few 
months, which we all admit were a trifle rough, it was on the 
whole a very pleasant war for those of us who had enough 
change of work to keep it interesting. I cannot help but feel 
that going back now would have the effect of effacing a lot of 
those early and rather pleasant memories. Paris, as it would 
appear to me as a middle-aged tourist, would, I am afraid, be 
apt to blot out the infinitely more interesting Paris that we 
knew ten years ago. 

'When I look back at the whole five years over there, I find 

35 1 

American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

that the outstanding things are what happened in the first six 
months in the Legion and the last six months when I was look- 
ing up the missing fellows. The rest of it doesn't seem to 
figure as very much. When I think of the first six months, the 
picture is really a lot more clear, but things that I remember are 
apt to be the absurdities. For example, on our first trip up to 
the lines the thing I chiefly remember was how Trinkard dressed 
me down because my gamelle chain was rattling. I think at 
that particular moment we were something like five kilo- 
metres from the nearest German. I don't suppose it can be 
done, but if any one can convey to paper what a bunch of 
really innocent children we were, he will have accomplished 
quite a lot.' 

Jack Moyet entered the service of the French Steamship 
Line after he was released from the Foreign Legion, and was 
first a library steward, then maitre d'hote/ on the steamship 
Lafayette. It developed that he was not an American at all, 
but a French citizen from Brittany. His parents died when 
he was a baby, and he was brought up by an uncle, a priest. 
When the World War started, Moyet wanted to enlist at once, 
but because of his extreme youth his uncle refused to consent, 
and, to keep him from running away and joining the army, 
put him in a boys' school in England. 

Moyet stayed at the school until 1916, then ran away and 
tried to get into the British Army. He was rejected, but some 
English officers stowed him away on a troop ship bound for 
Salonika, and carried him as far as Marseille. He went ashore 
there, and, claiming that he was an American citizen, volun- 
teered in the Foreign Legion. 

The name of Edmond Charles Clinton Genet was cleared of 
the technical charge of desertion placed against it on the records 
of the United States Navy when the youth left in 1914 to fight 
for France. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels wrote the 
boy's mother a letter which began: 

35 2 

After the War 

My dear Mrs. Genet: 

There has but recently been brought to my attention a story full of 
interest to me, a story glorified by the unselfish patriotism and final 
sacrifice of an American lad. 

The letter went on to say that, in fighting under the flag of France, 
Edmond Genet was 'giving to his own country his valuable services in 
so serving France,' and concluded: 

Edmond Charles Clinton Genet, having honorably terminated an 
enlistment with an ally, since he died on the field of battle . . . the offense 
with which he is charged is nullified by his conduct, and conduct in 
the common cause under the flag of our ally. I myself am honored in 
having the privilege of deciding that the record of Edmond Clinton 
Genet, ordinary seaman, United States Navy, shall be considered in 
every respect an honorable one. 

There was formed in Paris, on July 4, 1919, an 'Association of 
American Volunteers in the Foreign Legion, 1914-1918,' which 
elected as its first president Edgar J. Bouligny, and whose ob- 
jects are: 'to honor and perpetuate the memory of the American 
volunteer combatants who died fighting for France during the 
World War; to keep alive and strengthen the bonds of friend- 
ship and comradeship between the surviving American volun- 
teer combatants, and to defend their interests at all times; to 
endeavor to promote a better understanding between France 
and the United States.' 

The name of the organization was changed, on February I, 
1930, to 'Trench and Air Association of American Volunteer 
Combatants in the French Army, 1914-1918,' as it counted 
among its members Americans who had fought in the French 
Aviation, Line Infantry, and Artillery, as well as in the Foreign 

'Trench and Air' held a ceremony at the Place des Etats- 
Unis, Paris, on February 27, 1930, in memory of Edward Man- 
dell Stone, and a Paris newspaper, UAmi du Peuple, in its ac- 
count of the event, gave the address of the Association's head- 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

quarters. It was seen by Prosper Didier, the old corporal of the 
'American Squad' of the Premier Etranger, and the sole surviv- 
ing member of that unit, who, after the September, 1915, bat- 
tles in Champagne, served with the battalion of the Legion in 
the Dardanelles and in Macedonia. Didier, now retired from 
the Legion and living in Algiers, wrote to Paul Rockwell: 'It is 
always with emotion that I recall those who, aided by our vet- 
eran experience, came to prove by their contempt for death 
that the regiment of the Foreign Legion in France was an in- 
comparable regiment. It is the greatest honor of my life to 
have had in my squad your compatriots, and I am proud of 
having had the esteem of such men.' 


On July 4, 1923, there was dedicated in Paris, at the Place des 
fitats-Unis, a monument to the American volunteers who died 
for France. This testimonial of gratitude was largely due to the 
initiative and work of Commandant Maurice Mercadier, a 
French officer often in contact with the Americans during the 
war, who formed a Memorial Committee which raised the funds 
for the erection of the monument by popular subscription 
throughout France and the French Colonies. 

The monument was the work of the master sculptor, Jean 
Boucher, himself a former combatant, and represents an Amer- 
ican volunteer standing on a pedestal of Lorraine stone and 
calling his countrymen to arms. From the pedestal come forth, 
in high relief, a French soldier and an American volunteer, with 
their hands clasped in brotherly agreement, under the guardian- 
ship of a symbolical winged figure. On the sides are engraved 
poems by Alan Seeger, and at the back are the words of Ed- 
mond Genet, * Vive la France, toujour sV and the names of the 
fallen American Legionnaires and aviators. 

Ambassador Myron T. Herrick, the American speaker at the 
dedication ceremony, said: 


After the War 

'When the momentous month of August, 1914, had run but 
half its course, when the enemy's cannon was destroying, one 
after another, the supposedly impregnable fortresses of Bel- 
gium, when his armies were approaching day by day nearer and 
nearer to Paris, and his avions hovered above our roofs and 
dropped bombs on civilians — when the whole civilized world 
was watching breathlessly for the outcome of that monstrous 
onslaught upon its peace and well-being, our people in America, 
who at that time regarded the European war as of purely foreign 
concern, read in their morning newspapers, some with incredu- 
lity, others with wonder, that a handful of young Americans in 
Paris had abandoned their studies, their occupations, or their 
pleasures, as the case might be, and enlisted in the Foreign 
Legion of France. 

' I like to think of these fine lads and I like to talk of them as I 
saw them at my Embassy in those fateful August days of 191 4. 
They came timidly, sometimes singly, sometimes in groups, to 
seek their Ambassador's advice. Never was I so proud of the 
nation which bore me as when I looked into their eyes, for their 
acts were an inspired answer to the babble of pacifism, neutral- 
ity, and propaganda that "fatigued the air" of America. 

'You can imagine how difficult it was to tell them what I had 
in my heart to say. I wanted to embrace them in the name of 
their absent mothers and give them a father's blessing. All I 
could find to transcribe my feelings, and yet keep within the 
limits of the duty imposed upon me, was to tell them that if I 
could change my place for theirs, or my age for their vigorous 
youth, my choice would be quickly made. This seemed to an- 
swer the predetermined question that I saw in their glowing 
eyes — there was no haste, no excitement, no foolish sentimen- 
tality, but sure determination and the courage of youth sud- 
denly turned to manhood. 

'Subconsciously they were burning with patriotic zeal to go 
forth and fight under another flag, with the same colors as 


American Fighters in the Foreign Legion 

theirs, for what they instinctively felt was their own country's 
honor, and the influence exerted throughout America by their 
example was one of the imponderables which wrought for the 
final destruction of the invader. All honor to them — martyrs, 
poets, prophets, that they were!' 

General Mangin, President of the Comite du Monument aux 
Volontaires Americains, in his address, said in part: 

'Of all the monuments that fond remembrances have caused 
to spring up throughout the country, the one you have before 
you has been adjudged the best. It has been carved out of the 
hardest Lorraine stone, which time and exposure do not render 
harder still. 

'And it was our desire that it be erected in Paris, the head 
and heart of France. 

1 Monsieur le President du Conseil Municipal, 

'On behalf of the Comite du Monument aux Volontaires Amer- 
icans, I entrust this fine piece of statuary to the City of Paris. 
Testifying as it does to the gratitude of France, it constitutes a 
fresh and lasting bond between the two countries. To the chil- 
dren of our schools, it will serve as a constant lesson of sacrifice 
to noble causes, and of everlasting friendship toward the Amer- 
ican people. Should a passing cloud ever happen to arise be- 
tween the two fraternal peoples that shed their blood together 
on the stricken field, in the holiest of quarrels, the pure radiance 
of this stone would soon dispel it. Should the cause of Civiliza- 
tion be threatened again, he would again come forward, the 
American Volunteer of 1914, and his arm of bronze would move 
to beckon his country on! 

'Oh! my comrades in arms, you lived long enough to show the 
world that gold and iron, its all too fondly worshipped idols, 
crumble to pieces when they come up against sentiments and 
ideas. No paltry calculation obscured the purity of your sacri- 
fice. Ye sublime soldiers of idealism, who have passed away, we 
swear ever to remain worthy of you.' 

35 6 



Aconin, 333 

Acque, 71 

Adjudant, the, 32 

Aerial warfare, 43, 110 

Agostini, Guy H., joins the Foreign Le- 
gion, 58; still in Legion in winter of 
1916-17, 220; receives Croix de Guerre 
and citation, 233; killed in action, 275, 
278, 279; Medaille Militaire awarded 
posthumously to, 347 

Ailette Valley, 308 

Aisne-Champagne offensive, 245-47 

Algeria, the Foreign Legion in, 14, 15 

Algerians, 160 

Allemant, 338 

Alma, battle of the, 1 5 

American Volunteer Corps, 4 

American volunteers, start drilling, 7; first 
group of, leave Paris for Rouen, 8. See 
also Foreign Legion; Volunteers 

Ames, George Preston, of Foreign Legion, 
machine-gunner, 95; helps dig out Jacob, 
95; leaves Legion and enters aviation 
school, 195 

Amiens, 249; the defence of, 322-32 

Amilly, Capt. Osmont d', killed in battle, 

Amundsen, Capt. Raoul, 93 

Angell, Col., joins the Foreign Legion, 146 

Apaches, 10, 94 

Appleton, Walter K., Jr., joins Foreign 
Legion, 92; transfers to One Hundred 
and Seventieth Regiment, 159; in hospi- 
tal, 166; transferred to United States 
Army, 310; sent to Twenty-Third En- 
gineers' headquarters, 312 

Armistice, the, 341 

'Army' of the South American 'Republic' 

of Counani, 67 
Artois Ridge, battle for (May-June, 

191 5), 69-91 
Assevillers, 183 

'Association of American Volunteers in the 
Foreign Legion, 1914-18,' formation 

of. 353 

'Atlantic Monthly,' articles of Morlae in, 
127, 128 

Attey (Athey, Donald Thane), 156 
Auberive, 223, 226-28, 233 
Avignon, training camp for foreign volun- 
teers at, 8 
Avord, Camp d', 107, 187 

Bach, Jules James, signs appeal to Ameri- 
cans in France, 4; sent to Rouen train- 
ing camp, 9; mechanical engineer, 10; 
shares funds with comrades, 19; made 
first-class private, 24; leaves Legion to 
learn to fly, 44; taken prisoner, no, n 1; 
decorated with Medaille Militaire and 
Croix de Guerre, with citation, 347 

Ballon d' Alsace, 103 

Balsley, Clyde, transfers to Flying Corps, 

188; wounded, 191 
Barracks life, 12, 13 

Barret, Corp. John, his account of Seeger's 
death, 180; killed in action, 228, 229; his 
account of experiences in Morocco, 236- 

Barry, Arthur, joins the Foreign Legion, 
142-44; in fight at La Valbonne, 153, 
154; at the Somme front, 176; at Ples- 
sier-du-Roye, 216; writes of Chatkoff, 
217; still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 
220; wounded and gassed, 221; awarded 
Croix de Guerre, ill; cited in Order of 
the Regiment, 221, 222; in Champagne 
battle, 226; in Verdun battle, 273, 275; 
wounded, 275, 276; sent to Twenty- 
Third Engineers' headquarters, 312, 313 

Bayonne, training camp for foreign volun- 
teers at, 8, 61 

Bayonne battalion. See First Foreign 



Bayonvillers, 172 

Bear, Rif, member of the American Volun- 
teer Corps, 4; his account of Seeger's 
death, 180, 181 

Beaumont, 336 

Beaumont, Charles, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; dry-goods salesman, 10; 
wounded, 41; invalided out of the Le- 
gion, 41; in military hospital, 58; his 
career after the War, 350 

Beaurieux, 45 

Belgian volunteers, departure of, for na- 
tional army, 102 

Belloy-en-Santerre, 174, 176-78, 180-86, 

Benoit, Lt., 178, 179; killed in action, 277 
Bernard, Capt., killed in action, 117 
Bernstorff, Count von, 250 
Berry-au-Bac, 261, 262 
Berthonval Farm, 71 
Bethonsart, 69, 70 

Blois, training camp for foreign volunteers 
at, 8 

Blondell, wounded, 78 

Blount, Richard Allen, joins the Foreign 

Legion, 263; in Verdun battle, 275; 

awarded Croix de Guerre, 277; wounded, 

283; after the War, 350 
Bois des Bouleaux, 131 
Bois des Vandales, 130, 131 
Bois du Seigneur, 245 
Bois Guillaume, 13 1 
Bois-le-Pretre, 81 
Bois l'liveque, 279 

Bois Sabot (Horseshoe Wood), 1 15-21, 
129, 130 

Boismaure, Charles, sent to Rouen train- 
ing camp, 8; pharmacist, 10; killed in 
action, 183 

Bolo Pacha, 287 

Bombproof shelter, 96 

Bonnell, Bartlett Brooke, joins the Foreign 
Legion, 93; in Champagne battle, 119; 
decorated, 146; cited in Army Orders, 
146; invalided out of Army, 146; drives 
motor-truck, 314; after the War, 350 

Booth, English volunteer, of the Ninth 
Squad, 31 

Boucher, Jean, sculptor, 354 

Boulanger, Fred, joins the Foreign Legion, 

Bouleaux Wood, 223, 226 

Bouligny, Gen. Dominique de, 5 

Bouligny, Edgar John, offers services to 
French Government, 5; sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; called upon to protect 
German prisoners, 20; reference to, 21; 
made corporal, 24; in machine-gun com- 
pany, 35; wounded, 41, 101, 113, 218; 
made sergeant, 59; narrow escape of, 
103; at La Valbonne, 142; at Somme 
front, 172; at Plessier-du-Roye, 216; 
cited in Army Orders, 218; to receive 
Croix de Guerre, 218, 219; transferred to 
the Aviation Corps, 256; quoted on 
Nock, 292; writes of Pavelka's death, 
304, 305; on the Near-Orient Front, 305, 
306; transferred to United States Avia- 
tion, 306; his career after the War, 349; 
first president of the 'Association of 
American Volunteers in the Foreign Le- 
gion, 1914-18,' 353 

Boutin, Capt., killed in battle, 76 

Bowe, John, joins the Foreign Legion, 58; 
career of, 58, 59; transfers to One Hun- 
dred and Seventieth Regiment, 159; 
wounded, 160; in Alsace, 208-10; re- 
ceives Croix de Guerre, 210; citation, 210; 
receives Serbian War Cross, 210; trans- 
ferred to the Ninety-Second Territorial 
Regiment, 210; in hospital, 21 1; returns 
to United States, 265; after the War, 350 

Boyau du Chancelier, 179, 184 

Boyer, Lt., killed in action, 232 

Bracy, James, joins the Foreign Legion, 
144, 145; at Somme front, 172; at storm- 
ing of Balloy-en-Santerre, 186; dis- 
charged from Legion, 186 

Brandon, Gerald, joins the Foreign Legion, 
142; charged with assault, 148, 149 

Bray, 204 

Brocard, Lt., 43 

Brown, John, joins Foreign Legion, 92; in 

Champagne battle, 120 
Buchanan, English volunteer, of the Ninth 

Squad, 31, 49 
Buffet, Lt., killed, 103 
Bullard, Eugene, 159 



Burckley, Sergeant, English volunteer, 40 
Burel, Commandant, killed in action, 118 
Bussang, 210 

Bustillos, Alfred Gerl, joins the Foreign 
Legion, 1 42; references to, 285, 289; still 
with the Legion in January, 191 8, 322; 
wounded, 324; gassed and burned, 339; 
cited in Order of the Day for the third 
time, 339 

Butte de Souain, 1 14, 1 15 

Cabaret Rouge, 81, 84 
Cachy, 248 

Caillaux, Joseph, charged with treason, 287 
Caillette Wood, 167, 168, 170 
Cajacca, the Foreign Legion at, 16 
Calderon, Jose Garcia, 104; slain, 195 
Camaron (Camerone), the Foreign Legion 
at, 16, 17 

Campbell, Gerald, English war-correspond- 
ent, on the Foreign Legion, 346 

Campremy, 336 

Canrobert, Gen., 15 

Canudo, signs appeal to foreigners in 
France, 4 

Capdevielle, Ferdinand, sails to enlist un 
der French colors, 6; sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; employe in steamship 
company's office, 10; made first-class 
private, 24; of the Ninth Squad, 31, 57; 
in occurrences at chateau of Craonnelle, 
49; acts as corporal, 58; reference to, 
101 ; transfers to One Hundred and Sev 
entieth Regiment, 159; promoted cor 
poral quartermaster, 166; his account of 
the fight at Caillette Wood, 167; given 
Croix de Guerre, 169; on Somme front, 
203, 208; promoted aspirant-officer, 246; 
returns from America, 307, 308; enters 
French officers' school, 308; in Lorraine, 
315; his account of counter-offensive of 
July 18, 1918, 316-18; back in Cham- 
pagne sector, 318; death, 319; awarded 
posthumously the Cross of the Legion of 
Honor, with citation, 319, 320 
Carency, 81 

Carstairs, James Stewart, signs appeal to 
Americans in France, 4; sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; artist, 9; as student, 

11; shares funds with comrades, 19; on 
the way to Verzy, 27; of the Ninth 
Squad, 31; in military hospital, 58; in- 
valided out of the Legion, 58; returns to 
United States, 58; member of college 
club, ico 

Carvalho, Raphael de, killed in action, 118 
Casey, John Jacob, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; artist, 9, 11, 220; claims to have 
been in Mexican Army, 19; in mili- 
tary hospital, 58; denounced by Morlae 
as spy, 59; references to, 101, 285; 
wounded, 113; at La Valbonne, 1 42; 
charged with assault, 148; still in Legion 
in winter of 1916-17, 220; regimental 
topographer, 220; in charge of art de- 
partment of American War organiza- 
tion, 311; death, 349 
Castelnau, Gen. de, 129, 274, 340 
Cendrars, Blaise, signs appeal to foreigners 
in France, 4; maimed in battle, 87; re- 
ceives decorations, 87 
Chalons-sur-Marne, 108, 119 
Champagne, country, 25, 26; vineyards, 
28; battle (191 5), 108-26; battle (1917), 
223-36; region (1917), 307; sector (1918), 

Champenoux, 340 
Champlieu, 330 

Chapman, John Jay, 193, 194, 199. 3 J 4 
Chapman, Victor, joins Foreign Legion, 
92; put in machine-gun company, 95; 
helps dig out Jacob, 95; letters of, 96-98; 
wounded, 98; member of college club, 
ico; leaves Legion to enter Aviation 
Service, 104; writes of Kiffin Rockwell, 
107; an original member of the Esca- 
drille Americaine, 187; at Verdun. ^o; 
made sergeant, 191; awarded Croix de 
Guerre, 191; citation, 191; death, 191-93; 
posthumously cited in Order of the 
Army, 193; reference to, 234; honorable 
mention to, in air service, 298; Medaille 
Militaire awarded posthumously to, 347 
Charles, Christopher, joins Foreign Legion, 
92; wounded, 120; in football team, 136; 
his account of the Somme battle, 172-76; 
receives Croix de Guerre, 185, 233; cited, 
185, 233; still in Legion in winter of 



1916-17, 220; his account of Champagne 
battle, 224-26; writes of Whitmore, 234; 
writes of return of Legion to the trenches, 
261, 262; on Washington treatment of 
Legionnaires, 270; his account of French 
attack at Verdun, 272, 273; mentioned 
for services, 277; his comments of Ver- 
dun battlefield, 278; writes concerning 
review of Legion, 281; writes on Flirey 
trenches, 282; on McLellan, 284; refer- 
ences to, 285, 286; to transfer to United 
States Army, 290; sent to Twenty-Third 
Engineers' headquarters, 312; trans- 
ferred to Eighteenth Infantry Regiment, 
313; his career after the War, 347, 

Charton, John, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; killed in action, 174; Medaille 
Militaire awarded posthumously to, 347 

Charton, Louis, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; wounded, 184; enlists in the 
Aviation, 256; his account of the Verdun 
battle, 275; career in air service, 300 

Chateau du Blanc-Sablon, 36, 56 

Chateau-Salins, march of the Legion into, 

Chatkoff, Herman, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; automobile washer, 9; claims to 
have served in Salvation Army, 19; al- 
lowed to retain his hair, 20; attacks Phe- 
lizot's slayer, 57; in football team, 136; 
leaves Legion to become student pilot, 
188; changes name, 188; back with the 
Legion, 217, 218; tells of Bouligny's 
wound, 218; still in Legion in winter of 
1916-17, 220; wins Croix de Guerre with 
citation, 294; seriously wounded, 295; 
after the War, 350 

Chaudun, 294, 313 

Chelers, 81 

Chemin des Dames, 39, 294, 308, 309, 315, 

Chevignon, 309 

Chouteau, Pierre, of the Foreign Legion, 17 
Christmas in the trenches, 44, 45, 96, 219 
Clair, Frank, joins the Foreign Legion, 142, 

144; in Somme battle, 172, 174; fatally 

wounded, 183 
Claude, Henry L., joins the Foreign Le- 

gion, 142-44; in fight at La Valbonne, 
153, 154; at the Somme front, 176; still 
in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 2:.o; in 
Champagne battle, 225; receives Croix 
de Guerre with citation, 233; deserts from 
the Legion, 265, 266 

Clemenceau, Georges, made Prime Minis- 
ter, 287; visits Legion, 336 

Clignon Brook, 316, 317 

Cluny, ex-sea-captain, 104 

Coat, Victor, 330 

Colin, Commandant, 323, 324 

College fraternities, represented in trenches 
in France in 1914-15, 100 

Collett, Corp. Joseph, killed by bomb, 137, 

Collett, Marcel, 137; in Somme battle, 174; 
wounded, 184 

Collins, Harry Cushing, sent to Rouen 
training camp, 8; ex-sailor, 9; of the 
Ninth Squad, 31 ; feigns insanity, 42, 43; 
his picture and letter in Boston news- 
papers, 42; sent to disciplinary battalion 
in Northern Africa, 43; letters of, in 
Paris edition of the 'New York Herald,' 
132-34, 156, 157; at La Valbonne, 156; 
discharged from Army, 157 

Colonials, 140 

Compiegne, 134 

Conty, 322 

Convoy duty, 31-34 

Cordonnier, John A., of the Foreign Le- 
gion, 62, 68; wounded, 77, 166; in Cham- 
pagne battle, in; transfers to One Hun- 
dred and Seventieth Regiment, 159; in 
Alsace, 208, 210, 21 1; offers services to 
American Army, 257; capture of Dead 
Man's Hill by his regiment, 279; changes 
to United States Army, 310 

Cot, Lt.-Col., wounded, 77; in battle of 
June 16, 191 5, 84; references to, 87, 176, 
184; in Champagne battle, 115, 122; pro- 
moted general, 221 

Cottenchy, 322 

Coup de main (trench raid), 215, 242, 282, 

283, 286 
Courtanson Wood, 329 
Craonne, 40 

Craonne Plateau, 39, 40 



Craonnelle, 36, 39, 40, 126, 127; chateau of, 

occurrences at, 46-49 
Craonnelle cemetery, 41 
Crevecceur, 135, 216, 219-21 
Crimean War, the Foreign Legion in, 15 
Cross of the Legion of Honor, 280 
Cuiry-les-Chaudardes, 34, 35, 4i-43> 45> 


Cumieres, 271, 273, 274 
Cuperly, 132, 223, 260 
Cutler, Kate, 163 

Dahomey, the Foreign Legion in, 17 
Daly, from Texas, 240 
Dampierre-de-l'Aube, 262, 270 
Daniels, Josephus, letter of, 352, 353 
Daugan, Gen., 279, 334, 341-44 
Dead Man's Hill, capture of, 279 
Debeney, Gen., 326 

Decleve, Commandant, killed in action, 118 
Degoutte, Gen., 279 

Deligny, Gen., of the Foreign Legion, 18 

Delpech. See, Vandamne 

Delpeuch, George, sails to enlist under 
French colors, 6; sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; assistant to chef, 10; in military 
hospital, 58; receives Croix de Guerre, 
123; in the Somme battle, 182; wounded, 
184; awarded a palm for his Croix de 
Guerre, 185; after the War, 350 

Demetre, James Paul ("Jimmie Paul"), 
joins the Foreign Legion, 142; in Somme 
battle, 172, 175, 176; decorated with 
Croix de Guerre, 185; cited, 185; still in 
Legion in winter of 1916-17, 220; killed 
in action, 225 

Demetz, Col., 231 

Deming, Schuyler, volunteer, 213; fatally 
wounded, 262 

Deville, Chief of Battalion, 230, 232, 260 

Dickson, Corp. Ben, 242, 243 

Didier, Corp. Prosper, 67; wounded, 86, 
28 1 ; in Champagne battle, 1 1 8 ; writes to 
Paul Rockwell on Foreign Legion, 354 

Dodds, Gen., of the Foreign Legion, 17 

Do-Hu-Vi, Annamite, killed in action, 177, 

Dompierre, 184 
Dostal, Lt., killed in battle, 76 

Doumic, Lt. Max, killed in battle, 63 
Doumic, Rene, 63 

Dounce, Harry Esty, reference to, 305 
Dowd, Dennis, sails to enlist under French 
colors, 6; sent to Rouen training camp, 
9; lawyer, 10; at Camp de Mailly, 23; 
of the Ninth Squad, 31, 57; at Fismes, 
34; in Champagne battle, 113; transfers 
to One Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 
ment, 159; wounded, 160, 167; trans- 
ferred to the Aviation, 188; death, 200; 
his love history, 201, 202 
Doxat, Lt., 329 

Driant, Col., warns of impending German 
assault on Verdun, 164; killed in action, 

Drossner, Carl Jean, 79, 80 

Du Bois, John Paul, 126, 127, 157, 158 

Dufour, Emil, sent to Rouen training 

camp, 8; wounded, 113; in munitions 

factory, 147; marries, 147 
Dugan, Charles, 298 

Dugan, William E., Jr., joins Foreign Le- 
gion, 92; references to, 97, 98, 129; 
member of Alpha Delta Phi, 100; trans- 
fers to Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 
ment, 159; wounded, 168; given Croix de 
Guerre, 169; cited in Army Orders, 169; 
enters flying school, 188; joins Escadrille, 
200; first lieutenant in United States 
Air Service, 297; made officer at Ameri- 
can Acceptance Park, 298; marriage, 
298, 309; career after the War, 348 

Dulcie, C, joins the Foreign Legion, 142 

Duncan, Isadora, 154 

Dupont, Frank, of the Foreign Legion, 93; 
transfers to One Hundred and Seventi- 
eth Regiment, 159; given charge of 
squad, 159; gassed, 168; on Somme 
front, 203; injured, 246 

Duriez, Lt.-Col., 221, 222, 232; death, 231 

Effremoff, Lt., killed in action, 324 
Elkington, John, and Dr. Wheeler, 106, 

118, 119, 125; reinstatement of, 123-25 
English volunteers, start drilling, 7; join 

the national army, 58 
Iipernay, 26 

Ermenonville, forest of, 327 

3 6 3 


Ernster, John R., American Vice-Consul at 
Lyon, 148, 154 

Escadrille Lafayette {AmSricaine), forma- 
tion of, 187, 188; first victory of, 188, 
189; at Verdun, 189-95; at Luxeuil, 195- 
200; mascot of, 196; at the Somme, 200, 
248-56; changes original name, 250; en- 
listments in, 293; positions of, 293; rec- 
ord of, 295, 296; taken over by the 
United States Air Service, 296-98 

Etinehem, 203, 204 

Farnsworth, Henry Weston, joins the For- 
eign Legion, 98, 99; member of college 
club, 100; quoted on departure of Rus- 
sian volunteers, 102; quoted on Chap- 
man's departure from the Legion, 104; 
quoted on Sukuna, 105, 106; quoted on 
presentation of battle-flags, 107, 108; 
killed in action, 118; place of burial, 130; 
Medaille Militaire awarded posthu- 
mously to, 347 

Farnsworth, William, has cemetery built 
near Souain, 130 

Fere-Champenoise, 26 

Ferres-Costa, killed in action, 77 

Fieschi, Corsican, in French counter offen- 
sive of July 18, 1918, 317; decorated 
with Croix de Guerre and cited, 317 

Fike, John Earl, of the Foreign Legion, 
63; career of, 66; sent to the front, 67; in 
American Squad of the Premier Etranger, 
68; wounded, 82, 85; listed as missing, 
85; as John Smith, 90 

First Foreign Regiment, Second Marching 
Regiment. See Premier Etranger 

First Foreign Regiment, Third Marching 
Regiment. See Third Marching Regi- 

Fismes, 33, 34, 56 

Flers, Robert de, quoted on foreign volun- 
teers, 7 
Flirey, 281 

Foch, Marshal Ferdinand, nominated as 
supreme Commander-in-Chief, 327 

Foley, Garrett, joins the Foreign Legion, 
263; shoots himself in shoulder, 284 

Foreign Legion, 'marching regiments' of, 
6-8; veterans of, arrive at Perignon Bar- 

racks, 13, 14, 18; history of, 15-18; Bat- 
talions of, 21, 23, 25; veterans and volun- 
teers, feeling between, 53-57, 220, 240, 
241; in battles of May-June, 191 5, 69- 
86; gains first citation in Army Orders, 
79; effectiveness of, lessened by depart- 
ure of Belgians and liberation of Rus- 
sians, 101, 102; in the Champagne bat- 
tle (1915), 108-28; after the Champagne 
battle, 129-31; transference of certain 
American members to the One Hundred 
and Seventieth Line Regiment, 131, 132, 
159; relieved in trenches, 132; in winter 
quarters near Compiegne, 134; in re- 
view, 134; changes garb, 135; enters 
trenches in Marest-sur-Matz sector, 
136; Cross of St. George bestowed on 
flag of, by Czar, 136, 137; in training 
camp at La Valbonne, 139-58; on 
Somme front, 171-84; in trenches at 
Plessier-du-Roye, 184, 215; fourth cita- 
tion given to, in Army Orders, 184; 
granted new emblem of merit (fourra- 
gere), 186; in Somme trenches, 2 1 6-22; 
around Crevecoeur, 216-21; nationali- 
ties in, 217; in sector north of Tilloloy, 
221; follows Germans in the Somme to 
the Hindenburg Line, 222; in the Cham- 
pagne battle (1917), 223-36; cited for 
fifth time in Army Orders, 232; account 
of its taking of Auberive in official Bulle- 
tin of French Armies, 233; in the region 
of Cuperly, 260; in the trenches at 
Berry-au-Bac, 261; transported to Dam- 
pierre-de-l'Aube, 262, 270; flag of, taken 
to Paris to participate in military re- 
view, 263; homage paid to, in the Bulle- 
tin of the French armies, 263; at Verdun, 
270-78; mentioned for sixth time in 
Order of the Army, 276; moved back 
to region of Rampont, 278; in camp at 
Bois l'flveque,279; flag of, decorated with 
the Cross of the Legion of Honor, 280, 
281 ; citation, 280; new jourragere created 
for, 283; American members of, trans- 
ferred to United States Army, 292; in 
the German offensive of March-June, 
191 8, 321-32; cited in Order of the Day, 
3 l6 > 3 2 7> 335> 339; reconstituted, 330; 


composition of, in June, 1918, 331; in 
the French counter-offensive, 333-35; at 
Hardivillers, and then at Campremy, 
336; north of the Aisne, 336-39; in 
Lorraine, 340; double jourragbre created 
for, 340; third birthday of, 340; enters 
Lorraine, 341-44; its decorations at 
the end of the War, 343; enters the 
Palatinate, 344; flag of, decorated with 
the Medaille Militaire with citation, 345; 
goes to North Africa, 345; its flag and 
traditions inherited by the Troisieme 
Fltrangere, 345; records of French War 
Office on, 346. See also Premier £tranger; 
Second Foreign Regiment; Third March- 
ing Regiment 
Fourragere, the, 186, 281, 283, 340 
Franco-Prussian War, the Foreign Legion 

in, 17 
Frankenthal, 344 

French, counter-attack of, July 18, 1918, 
316-20, 333-35; the September, 1918, 
advance of, 336-39 

Frise, 94 

Furlotti, Italian volunteer, 69 

Gache, Samuel, killed in action, 118 

Galle, Commandant de, 59 

Gallieni, Gen. Joseph S., commander of 
Madagascar, 18 

Ganson, Joseph W., sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; tutor, 9; as student, II; in mili- 
tary hospital, 58; invalided out of the 
Legion, 58 

Gaubert, Commandant, killed, 76 

Geay, Commandant, 281 

Genet, Edmond Charles Clinton, joins the 
Foreign Legion, 98-100; quoted on 
Champagne battle, 116; in Champagne 
battle, 120; writes on march to rear, 132; 
his account of review, 134; episode re- 
lated by, 135; leaves Legion to become 
student pilot, 188; joins Escadrille, 200; 
his account of McConnell's death, 251- 
53; decorated with Croix de Guerre and 
cited in Order of the Army, 253; death, 
254; his indignation at policy of 'Peace 
at any Price,' 255; cited posthumously, 
255, 256; his name cleared of technical 

charge of desertion, 352; letter of Jose- 
phus Daniels on, 352, 353; words of, on 
monument to volunteers, 354 

Gentelles Wood, 322 

Gerard, Gen., 279 

Gerard Wood, 333 

Germann, Commandant, 322, 324, 328, 

Germans, their offensive of March-June, 

Godin, in American Squad of the Premier 

Etranger, 68; killed in battle, 86 
Goldman, Emma, 127 
Gorky, Maxime, 62 
Gouraud, Gen., 263, 318, 319 
Granacher, Second Lt., killed in action, 292 
Grant, Nellie, 211 

Greeks, as knife-fighters, 81; in battle of 

June 16, 1915, 81-84 
Grundy, F. B., Paris correspondent of the 

New York 'Sun,' 101, 154 
Guadagnini, Lt., killed in action, 324 
Guerlac, Othon, quoted on Whitmore, 234- 


Guillaumet, Gen., 276 
'Gunga Din,' member of the American 
Volunteer Corps, 4 

Haas, Theodore, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; in hospital, 58; wounded, 184; 
still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 220; 
dispatch-bearer, 220; receives Croix de 
Guerre with citation, 233; wins second 
citation in Order of the Day, 284; drives 
army truck, 31 1 

Hadivillers, 336 

Hadley, Ernest, wounded, 126; invalided 

out of service, 126 
Hadley, Ralph, wounded, 125; career of, 

125, 126 

Haeffle, Louis, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; Parisian apache, 10; wounded, 
184; still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 
220; musician in Legion's band, 220 

Hageli, Capt., wounded, 323 

Haig, Marshal Douglas, 247 

Hall, Bert, sent to Rouen training camp, 8; 
adventurer, 9; leaves Legion to learn to 
fly, 44; an original member of the Esca- 

3 6 5 


drilk Americaine, 187; regarded with 
suspicion, 187; awarded Medaille Mili- 
taire and Croix de Guerre, 191; sent to 
Russia, 250; goes to United States, 250 

Hall, Harmon Dunn, of the Foreign Le- 
gion, 63; automobile salesman, 66; 
killed in battle, 84, 85; Medaille Militaire 
awarded posthumously to, 347 

Hall, James Norman, transfers to Flying 
Corps, 188; honorable mention to, in air 
service, 298 

Ham, 251, 256 

Hangard Wood, 323, 324, 327 
Hardwick, Nevin, American Red Cross 

automobilist, 329 
Hartmannsweillerkopf, 210 
Hautvillers, 26 

Heredia, a Malaga Spaniard, 104 
Herr, Gen., on Verdun front, 164 
Herrick, Myron T., words of, at dedication 

ceremony of monument to volunteers, 


Hill, Dudley L., transfers to Flying Corps, 

Hindenburg, Paul, quoted on the struggle 
for Verdun, 170 

Hindenburg Line, 222, 223, 251, 337, 338 

Hirondelles de la Mort, Les. See One Hun- 
dred and Seventieth Line Regiment 

HorTecker, Charles, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; mining engineer, 9; transfers to 
One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment, 
1 59; given charge of squad, 159; in duel, 
163; in fight at Caillette Wood, 168; 
wounded, 168; death, 168; given Me- 
daille Militaire and Croix de Guerre, 168; 
cited in Army Orders, 168 

Hohenlohe Regiment, 14 

Hoover, Herbert, 93 

Hopper, James, war correspondent, 147 

Hopper, John G., joins the Foreign Legion, 
93; his metal wreath, 94; put in charge of 
the map-making, 95; injured, 98; inva- 
lided out of the Legion, 98; in counter- 
spy service, 147; after the War, 350; in- 
vents device for night landing of aero- 
planes, 301 

Hoskier, Ronald W., transfers to Flying 
Corps, 188 


Hubmajer, of the Ninth Squad, 31 
Humbert, Senator, charged v,i ;l --eason, 

Indo-China, French, the Foreign Legion 
in, 17 

Inkermann, the Foreign Legion at, 16 
Irish Guard, 14 

Isabella II of Spain, Queen, the Foreign 

Legion lent to, 15 
Italian legion, formation of, voted, 3 
Italian volunteers, 87 
Italy enters the War, 69 

Jackson, Joe, killed in action, 184 
Jacob, Eugene, joins the Foreign Legion, 
93; butcher, 93, 97; named corporal, 95; 
put in machine-gun company, 95; de- 
vises bombproof shelter, 95, 96; transfers 
to One Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 
ment, 159; given charge of squad, 159; 
in duel, 163; in fight at Caillette Wood, 
168; made sergeant, 169; awarded Croix 
de Guerre, 169; cited in Army Orders, 
169; proposed for Medaille Militaire, 
170; on Somme front, 203, 208; in the 
Aisne-Champagne offensive, 245; again 
cited in Army Orders, 246; writes on en- 
try of United States into the War, 257; 
his account of conditions in Reims, 307, 
308; on Reims front, 309, 310; in Vosges 
Mountains, 310; liberated from French 
Army, 310; enlists in United States 
Army, 310; again a sergeant, 313; 
wounded, 314; his career after the War, 

Jacquesson, Commandant, 333, 334, 337, 


Jail, at La Valbonne, 1 47-49 
Jakovleff, leader of Moscow revolt, killed 

in action, 102 
Janz, Jack, of the Foreign Legion, 63; 
sailor, 66; sent to 'the front, 67; in Bat- 
talion A, 68; wounded, 77; changes to 
the One Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 
ment, 165; killed in action, 166; cited in 
Order of the Day, 166; his parentage, 
166; Medaille Militaire awarded posthu- 
mously to, 347 


Joffre, Gen. Joseph, 166, 171, 190, 199 
Johnson, Charles Chouteau, in the Foreign 

Legion, 17; transfers to Flying Corps, 


Jones, J. E., American Vice-Consul at 
Lyon, 148 

'Journal Official,' citation of Elkington in, 

Jousselin, Stephen, Paris Municipal Coun- 
cillor, 162 

Jovitchevitch, Capt., 325 

Junod, Capt. Edouard, 69, 77; quoted on 
presentation of flag, 108; in Champagne 
battle, 113, 117; killed in action, 118; 
name on monument in cemetery near 
Souain, 130 

Jury, in American Squad of the Premier 
Etranger, 68; killed in action, 118 

Juvigny, 336 

Kaiserslautern, 344 

Karayinis, Nick, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8; assistant at fruit-stand, 10; 
wounded, 113; cited in Order of the 
Regiment, 186; decorated with Croix de 
Guerre, 186; still in Legion in winter of 
1916—17, 220; receives second citation in 
Order of the Day, 233; in guard of honor, 
263; decorated with Medaille Militaire, 
and cited for third time in Army Orders, 
277; sent to Twenty-Third Engineers' 
headquarters, 312, 313; transferred to 
Eighteenth Infantry Regiment, 313 

Kelly, James E., 90 

Kelly, Russell, of the Foreign Legion, 63; 
his account of trip across the Ocean, 63- 
66; cadet at Virginia Military Institute, 
66; sent to the front, 67; letter of, 67; in 
American Squad of the Premier Etranger, 
68; wounded, 82, 85; listed as missing, 
85; the fate of, 90, 91 ; member of Kappa 
Alpha, 100; Medaille Militaire awarded 
posthumously to, 347 

King, David Wooster, sent to Rouen train- 
ing camp, 8; as student, ri; reference to, 
38; member of college club, 100; in 
Champagne battle, 113; transfers to 
One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment, 
159; injured, 161; wounded, 168; on 

Somme front, 203, 205, 206, 208; trans- 
ferred to Artillery, 208; transferred to 
United States Army, 310; after the War, 

Kitchens, battalion, 39 

Koniakof, Russian painter, killed in battle, 

86, 87 

Kordochenko, Nicolas, 71 

Krestovski, painter, killed in action, 102 

Krogh, Baron von, member of the Ameri- 
can Volunteer Corps, 4; of the Ninth 
Squad, 31, 57; reference to, 141 

Kurth, S. N., Luxembourg poet volunteer, 

3 2 5 

Laage de Meux, Lt. de, 248 
'Labyrinth,' 81, 84 
'Ladies' Road,' 308 
Laffaux Plateau, 337, 339 
Lamare, Lt., 324 

Landreaux, Fred, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 8, 9; actor, 10; wounded, 113; re- 
ceives Croix de Guerre, 123; after the 
War, 350 

Lannurien, Capt. de, wounded, 232; his 

battalion, 333, 334, 336; killed, 337 
Lansquenets, 14 
La Pompelle, Fort de, 62 
La Rochelle, 67 

Larsen, Nelson, of the Foreign Legion, 63; 
sailor, 66; sent to the front, 67; in Bat- 
talion D, 68; wounded, 82; returns to the 
front, 172; killed in action, 183; men- 
tioned in Order of the Day, 185; Me- 
daille Militaire awarded posthumously 

t°, 347 

La Targette, 81,85 

Laurencpt, Corp., killed, 68 

Laurent, John, joins the Foreign Legion, 
93; transfers to One Hundred and Seven- 
tieth Regiment, 159; in fight at Caillette 
Wood, 168; gassed, 168; drives motor- 
truck, 168 

La Valbonne, training camp at, 139-58, 

Lavigne-Delville, Col., 308 
La Villeon, Capt. de, 56 
Lawrence, D. H., and Maurice Magnus, 


3 6 7 


Leaves of absence, 127 
Lebedeff, Russian volunteer, 102 
Lecomte-Denis, Col., wounded, 113 
Leixelard, Capt., killed in action, 232 
Lemmario, Rodolfo, killed, 77 
Leuethman, Maurice, fatally wounded, 

183; mentioned in Order of the Day, 


Leygues, Georges, Deputy and President 

of Foreign Affairs Committee, 162 
Lice, 24, 29, 30, 42 
Licy-Clignon, 316 

Littre, veteran, killed in action, 179 
'London Gazette,' official notice concern- 
ing Elkington in, 124 
Lorraine, entered by the Legion, 341-44 
Ludendorff, Gen. Eric von, 309, 322, 323, 

Ludwigshafen, 345 

Lufbery, Gervais Raoul, of the Aviation, 
44; joins Escadrille Americaine, 191, 293; 
receives Medaille Militaire and Croix de 
Guerre, 194; citation, 194; at Verdun, 
195; at Luxeuil, 196, 198; cited in official 
Communique of Army, 200; promoted 
adjudant and decorated with Legion of 
Honor, 200; in the Somme, 254; major in 
United States Air Service, 297; killed in 
aerial combat, 297; honors bestowed 
upon, 297, 298 

Luxeuil-les-Bains, 187, 188, 195, 196, 310 

Lyautey, Marshal, 18 

Lydon, Joseph, joins the Foreign League, 
98, 100; looses foot, 130; awarded Me- 
daille Militaire and Croix de Guerre, 130; 
cited in Army Orders, 130; in the His- 
torique du Regiment de Marche de la Le- 
gion Etrangere, 131 ; offers services to 
American Army, 257; illness, 314 

Lyon, 63, 67, 79, 80, 212 

McAllister, Thomas F., sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; invalided out of the 
Army, 21 

McConnell, James Roger, transfers to 
Flying Corps, 188; injured, 194, 195; 
writes of Rockwell's death, 196-99; en- 
ters hospital, 250; death, 251-54; deco- 
rated with Croix de Guerre, 253; posthu- 

mous citation, 253; honorable mention 
to, in air service, 298 
Machine-guns, 140 

McLellan, O. L., joins the Foreign Legion, 
263, 264, 284; after the War, 348 

Madagascar, the Foreign Legion in, 17, 18 

Mader, adjudant-chef, 129, 230 

Magenta, the Foreign Legion in the battle 
of, 16 

Magnus, Maurice, 154-56 

Mailly, Camp de, arrival at, 22-25, ^ 2 

Maire, Commandant, 337, 338 

Maistre, Gen., Commander French Sixth 
Army, 308, 309 

Makaroff, Admiral, 72 

Malcy, Lt. de, killed, 76 

Mallon, Peter Sanford, of the Foreign Le- 
gion, 67 

Malmaison, Fort, 309 

Malvy, Minister of the Interior, charged 
with treason, 287 

Mangeot, Sergeant, 110, ill 

Mangin, Gen. Charles, 167, 313, 331, 332, 
335' 337) 339; sacrificed to defaitist ele- 
ment in Paris, 246; words of, at dedica- 
tion ceremony of monument to vol- 
unteers, 356 

Mannheim, 345 

Marabout of Sidi-Mohammed, defence of, 

'Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion 
of the Entrenched Camp of Paris.' See 
Third Marching Regiment 

Marest-sur-Matz, 136 

Margny-aux-Cerises, 222 

Marollf, Swiss volunteer, killed in action, 

Marr, Kenneth, transfers to Flying Corps, 
188; quoted on Chapman, 191-93; hon- 
orable mention to, in air service, 298 

Marseille, Commandant, 333, 334 

Marsh, Prof., explorer, 348 

Maxey-sur-Vaise, 321 

Maximilian, in Mexico, 16 

Mayer, Gaston R. Marcel, volunteer, 212, 
213; killed in action, 225, 226 

Memorial Day ceremony at Paris, 137, 138 

Mercadier, Commandant Maurice, 354 

Metz, 340 



Metz, Col., 128 

Mexico, the Foreign Legion in, 16, 17 
Meyer, Capt., killed in action, 323 
Mezieres, 110 

Michaud, Wilfred, joins the Foreign Le- 
gion, 58, 59; wounded, 113; at La Val- 
bonne, 142; at Somme front, 172; killed 
in action, 174; citation, 185 

Michel, killed in action, 98 

Mikailoff, sculptor, death, 68 

Milianah, siege of, 15 

Mille, Pierre, 234 

Mittelhauser, Col., 291 

Montbeliard, 103 

Montdidier, 222 

Montesquiou de Fezensac, Lt. de, killed in 

action, 122, 126 
Montesquiou-Fezensac, poet and general, 


Montgomery, Lt. de, killed in action, 339 

Montiers, 184 

Mont-Saint-Eloi, 80 

Morel, Legionnaire, 179 

Morlae, Edward, sent to Rouen training 

camp, 9; career, 10; made corporal, 24; 

made sergeant, 59; disliked, 59, 60; in 

Champagne battle, 113; a deserter, 127; 

his articles in the 'Atlantic Monthly,' 

127, 128 

Moroccan Division, references to, 62, 68, 
70, 78, 81, 88, 114, 132, 136, 160, 231, 
271, 281, 321, 323, 327, 331, 332, 340; 
reviewed, 107, 279; in General Order, 
334; enters Lorraine, 34I744 

Morocco, the Foreign Legion in, 18; ex- 
periences in, 236-45 

Moronvilliers Heights, 223 

Mortmare Wood, 282, 290 

Mouchet, Commandant, killed in action, 

Mourmelon, 231 

Mouvet, Oscar, in the Somme battle, 173, 
174; in Verdun battle, 273; cited and 
proposed for corporalship, 277; reference 
to, 286; wounded, 286; death, 349 

Moyet, Jack, joins the Foreign Legion, 
142; in Somme battle, 172, 176; his ac- 
count of Somme battle, 176-78; at 
Plessier-du-Roye, 216; still in Legion in 

winter of 1916-17, 220; in Champagne 
battle, 226; writes on movement of Le- 
gion to Verdun front, 271; in Verdun 
battle, 273; his account of Verdun bat- 
tle, 273, 274, 278; awarded Croix de 
Guerre, 277, 281; falls ill, 286; back from 
hospital, 321; wins another citation, 324, 
325; in defense of Amiens, 328; again 
cited in Order of the Day, 329; wounded, 
3 2 9> 33°; promoted corporal, 339; at 
Chateau-Salins, 344; career of, 352 
Mulhauser, Lt. Robert, joins the Foreign 
Legion, 93; transfers to One Hundred 
and Seventieth Regiment, 159; put in 
command of a section, 159; promoted 
sous-lieutenant, 168; receives Croix de 
Guerre, 168; cited in Army Orders, 168, 
208; on Somme front, 203; promoted to 
staff of Colonel, 246; in Reims trenches, 
308; goes to United States with French 
Military Mission, 308 
Muller, Commandant, killed, 76 
Mun, Count Albert de, French Deputy, 6 
Musgrave, Frank, of the Foreign Legion, 
63; lawyer, 66; sent to the front, 67; in 
Battalion A, 68; injured, 77; his account 
of battle of June 16, 191 5, 83, 86; in 
Champagne battle, 1 11, 112, 115; re- 
ceives Croix de Guerre, 123; cited in 
Army Orders, 123; has a premonition, 
129; transfers to One Hundred and Sev- 
entieth Regiment, 159; gassed and in- 
jured, 161; changes to Forty-Fourth 
Regiment, 163; on the Verdun front, 
163, 164; made prisoner, 165; returns to 
America, 347 

Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, 327 

Narvitz, Siegfried, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; professor of philosophy, 9, 10; 
killed in action, 183 

Navarin Farm, 114-16, 121, 318 

Nazare-Aga, Sergeant Karaman Khan, 
wounded, 122; cited, 233; at Chateau- 
Salins, 344 

Neamorin, in American Squad of the Pre- 
mier Etranger, 68; wounded, 82 

Nedim Bey, 96, 104 

Neuflagel, Major, killed, 76 



Neuilly, American Hospital at, 119 

Neuville-Saint-Vaast, 81 

Neuville-sur-Margival, 337 

Nilson, Elov, member of the American 
Volunteer Corps, 5; called upon to pro- 
tect German prisoners, 20; of the Ninth 
Squad, 31, 57; made interpreter, 169; 
decorated with Croix de Guerre, 169; re- 
ceives seven mentions, 169; transfers to 
One Hundred and Seventieth Regiment, 
159; ill from effects of gas, 161; proposed 
for Medaille Militaire, 170; on Somme 
front, 203; his account of Somme battle, 
203-07; killed in action, 207, 208; Me- 
daille Militaire awarded posthumously 
to, 347 

Ninth Squad, composition of, 31; on con- 
voy duty, 31-34; soupe corvee of, 39; as 
petit paste, 46-49; at the end of the first 
winter, 57 

Niox, Gen., 268 

Nivelle, Gen. Robert Georges, 246 

Nock, Ivan Finney, joins the Foreign Le- 
gion, 142, 145; in fight at La Valbonne, 
153; at Plessier-du-Roye, 216; still in 
Legion in winter of 1916-17, 220; 
wounded, 226, 276; awarded Croix de 
Guerre with citation, 233; in Verdun bat- 
tle, 273, 276; cited for second time, 277; 
on sector around Flirey, 281; quoted, 
283, 287; death, 291, 292; receives Me- 
daille Militaire, 291; cited, 291 

Noe, Jack, sent to Rouen training camp, 9; 
still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 220; 
in Champagne battle, 225; receives 
Croix de Guerre with citation, 233; 
wounded, 276; reference to, 289; still in 
Legion in January, 191 8, 321 

Noire, Commandant, killed, 76 

Nouvron-Vingre, 336 

to Rouen training 
instructor, 10; in 

Octobon, Lt., 179 

Olinger, Achilles, sent 
camp, 9; language 
military hospital, 58; invalided out of 
the Legion, 58; returns to United States, 
58; court-martialled, 59; member of 
Alpha Tau Omega, 100 

One Hundred and Seventieth Line Regi- 

ment, Legionnaires transferred to, 131, 
159; relieves Legion in trenches, 132 in 
the trenches, 136, 160-63; a t Verd m, 
164; on the Somme front, 203- 8; 
awarded fourragere and cited for second 
time in Army Orders, 207; in the Aisn;- 
Champagne offensive, 145-47; in Chan - 
pagne region (spring of 1917), 307; i.i 
trenches near Reims, 307; in Chemin 
des-Dames sector, 308-10; in trenches in 
Vosges Mountains, 310; in Lorraine, 315; 
in the counter-offensive of July 18, 1918, 
316; in Champagne sector, 318-20 

One Hundred and Sixty-Third Regimer u 
208-1 1; captures Dead Man's Hill, 279 

One Hundred and Third Aero Squadron, 

Oneger, Corp., killed in action, 76 
Onipko, member of first Douma, wounded, 

Orleans, training camp for foreign volun- 
teers at, 8 
Ouvrages Blancs, 76, 77 

Pagny-la-Blanche-C6te, 321 
Palatinate, the, 344 
Paraclet Wood, 322 

Paringfield, William, volunteer, 213; in 
Verdun battle, 273; promised citation, 
277; in foot-races, 279; changes to ma- 
chine-gun company, 283; mortally 
wounded in coup de main, 283, 284; 
decorated with Medaille Militaire and 
Croix de Guerre, and cited, 284 

Paris, Reuilly Caserne at, 92, 93 

Paris Fire Department, 94 

Parker, Gen. Frank, Military Attache in 
Paris, 288; at Chaudun plateau, 313 

Parsons, Edwin C, transfers to the Flying 
Corps, 188 

Pasqualaggi, adjudant, and Te>isien, 32; 

wounded, 40; in Somme battle, 178 
Passard, Col., of the Foreign Legion, 27, 

3 6 > "3 

Paullet, Tony, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; boxer, 10; in Champagne bat- 
tle, 113; at La Valbonne, 142; wounded, 
184; after the War, 351 

Pavelka, Paul, of the Foreign Legion, 63; 



sailor, 66; career of, 66, 67; sent to the 
front, 67; in American Squad of the 
Premier Etranger, 68; in Artois battle, 
74, 75; his account of battle of June 16, 
191 5, 81, 82; quoted on Kenneth Weeks, 
89; in Champagne battle, 1 1 1 ; quoted on 
Thorin, 119; reference to, 129; transfers 
to One Hundred and Seventieth Regi- 
ment, 159; his account of return to 
trenches, 160; made liaison agent, 161; 
goes to Paris on permission, 162; changes 
to the Aviation, 162, 163; joins the Esca- 
drille, 194; in the Somme, 248-50; goes 
to Saloniki, 250; on the Saloniki front, 
■ 301-04; death, 304, 305; receives Croix 
de Guerre with citation, 303 

PechkofF, Zinovi, joins the Foreign Legion, 
62; named corporal, 68; wounded, 78 

Peeters, Lt. W., Norwegian volunteer, 1 46 

Pein, Col., 68, 72; death, 76 

Percy, Robert, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; barber, 10; in military hospital, 
58; still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 
220; leaves Legion to become Thaw's 
Orderly, 301; after the War, 351 

Perignon, Dom, 26 

Perignon Barracks, Toulouse, 12, 13, 18, 22 
Petain, Gen. Henri Philippe, references to, 

165, 274, 279-81, 283, 296, 315, 327, 334, 


Peteau, Capt., killed in action, 232 
Peterson, Maj. David McK., honorable 

mention to, in air service, 298 
Petit poste, 46-48, 97 

Phelizot, Rene, signs appeal to Americans 
in France, 4; leaves Paris for Rouen, 8, 9; 
big-game hunter, 10; shares funds with 
comrades, 19; flag-bearer, 22; made 
first-class private, 24; wraps American 
flag around waist, 25; reference to, 38; 
death, 55-57; his career, 56, 57 

Philippe, Marius, joins the Foreign Le- 
gion, 142; in Verdun battle, 273, 276; 
wounded, 276; reference to, 289; still 
with the Legion in January, 191 8, 321; 
awarded Croix de Guerre, 324; wins 
fourth citation in Army Orders, 339 

Phillips, Corp. Joseph, 135, 136; cited in 
Order of the Regiment, 186; decorated 

with Croix de Guerre, 186; killed in ac- 
tion, 227 

Picardy, battle of, 203 

Pierce, Walter Raymond, joins the For- 
eign Legion, 263 

Pierre, of the Ninth Squad, 31; deserts, 
284, 285 

Pierre I, King, of Serbia, 17 

Pilots, American, in French uniform, 301 

Piquet, 338 

Plessier-du-Roye, Legion in trenches at, 
184, 215 

Poincare, President Raymond, 268 
Polish Guard, 15 

Pourpe, Marc, airman, 44; killed, 191 
Premier Etranger, 60-63, 67, 69, 73, 87, 
101; in training at Bayonne, 62; in the 
trenches, 62; depots of, concentrated at 
Lyon, 63; in battle of May 9, 1 91 5, 69- 
79; in battle of June 16, 1915, 81-86; 
helps in repelling German attack (June 
24, 1915), 87; strengthened by remnants 
of Third Marching Regiment, 103; goes 
to Vosges Mountains, 103; battle-flag 
presented to, 107; in Champagne battle, 
108-28; cited in Army Orders, 122; 
second palm added to flag of, 123; 
merged in one regiment with the Second 
Foreign Regiment, 124. See also Foreign 

Prince, Norman, honorable mention to, in 
air service, 298 

Proclamation, to foreigners in France, pub- 
lished July 31, 1914, 3 

Rader, Phil, joins the Foreign Legion, 93; 
leaves for England, 94, 95; his subse- 
quent career, 95 

Rampont, 278 

Rapier, C. V., British officer, 7 

Ravin de la Mort ('Death Ravine'), 216 

Regiment de Marche de la Legion Etrangere, 
134; changes quarters to Crevecceur, 
135; goes to North Africa, 345 

Regneville, 274-76 

Reims, 33, 307, 308 

Reims Mountain, 27, 28, 62 

Revillion, 50 

Riboville, Capt., 328 



Rockwell, Kiffin Yates, offers services to 
French Government, 5; sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; his education, n; 
claims to have been in Mexican Army, 
19; of the Ninth Squad, 31, 57; at Fis- 
mes, 34; describes war episode, 45-49; 
acts as corporal, 58; writes to brother 
concerning Morlae, 59, 60; transferred to 
the First Regiment, 67; in American 
Squad of the Premier Etranger, 68; sacri- 
fices his beard, 71 ; his description of bat- 
tle of May 9, 1915, 72-76; wounded, 74, 
75, 101; member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, 
100; transferred to the Aviation, 106, 
107, 162; writes of Chapman, 107; his 
account of life at La Valbonne, 140-42; 
an original member of the Escadrille 
Americaine, 187; wins first victory in 
Escadrille Americaine, 188, 189; at Ver- 
dun, 189, 190, 195; wounded, 190; pro- 
moted sergeant, 190; awarded Medaille 
Militaire and Croix de Guerre with palm, 
190; citation, 190; again cited in Army 
Orders, 194; proposed for another cita- 
tion and for rank of sous-lieutenant, 196; 
death, 196-99, 210; posthumous cita- 
tion, 199; reference to, 234; honorable 
mention to, in air service, 298; Legion of 
Honor awarded posthumously to, 347 

Rockwell, Paul Ayres, offers services to 
French Government, 5; sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; his education, 11; 
claims to have been in Mexican Army, 
19; of the Ninth Squad, 31; references 

to, 3 8 > J 37, H5> H 6 , ip. J 53! i n no- 
tary hospital, 58; invalided out of the 
Legion, 58; engages in French propa- 
ganda work, 58; member of Sigma Phi 
Epsilon, 100; at funeral of brother, 199; 
learns Dowd's secret, 201; visits old 
comrades at Crevecoeur, 219, 220; causes 
Claude's desertion, 265; writes article 
for 'Chicago Daily News' on attitude of 
United States War Department toward 
American members of French Legion, 
288, 289; learns of Capdevielle's death, 
318, 319; writes of entry into Lorraine, 
341-44; serves with French Aviation in 
Morocco, 349; letter of Didier to 354 

Rockwell, Robert L., transfers to Flying 

Corps, 188 
Rockwell, William, 5 

Rocle, Marius, joins the Foreign Legion, 
93; in Champagne battle, 115; cited in 
Army Orders, 123; decorated with Croix 
de Guerre, 123; transfers to One Hundred 
and Seventieth Regiment, 159; wounded, 
168; enters flying school, 188; at the 
front as machine-gunner and aerial ob- 
server, 200; career in air service, 299. 
300; in aviation camp, 309 
Rodern, 103 
Roiglise, 222 

Rollet, Lt.-CoL, references to, 260, 263, 
274, 276, 284, 286, 289, 291, 327, 329, 

'Roman Review,' 154 
Romilly-sur-Seine, 51 
Rosieres-aux-Salines, 340 
Rouen, training camp for foreign volun- 
teers at, 8; camp transferred to Tou- 
louse, 12 

Roxas, Juan, killed in aerial combat, 250; 
decorated with Croix de Guerre and sev- 
eral citations, 250 
Roye, 222 

Ruelland, Commandant, killed in action, 

Russian Revolution, 223 
Russian volunteers, liberation of, 102 

Said, Joseph Ben, killed in battle, 85 
Saint-Bandry Ravine, 329 
Saint-Gond, 26 
Saint-Martin-aux-Bois, 184 
Saint-Pierre-Aigle, 331 
Saint-Quentin sector, 321 
Saloniki front, 250, 301-06; the city, 306 
Sampigny, Commandant de, 323, 324; 

killed in action, 334 
Sanborn, Alvan F., joins Foreign Legion, 
92; ill with pneumonia, 98; invalided out 
of the Legion, 98; member of Psi Upsi- 
lon, 100; on Commission for reeducation 
of war cripples, 260; after the War, 351 
Sanchez-Carrero, Capt., 337, 338; killed in 
action, 339 
I Santa Ysabel, the Foreign Legion at, 16 



Sapene, Henri, quoted on Nock, 291 

Sartoris, Capt. Algernon, 211 

Sartoris, Algernon Charles, joins the For- 
eign Legion, 211-13; criticizes action of 
American War Department, 259; in in- 
firmary, 276; on Agostini's death, 278, 
279; his job as donkey-boy and water- 
carrier, 282; references to, 285, 292; dis- 
charged from A.E.F., 31 1 ; a gifted 
writer, 312; death, 348 

Saulxures-les-Nancy, 340 

Scanlan, Lawrence, of the Foreign Legion, 
63; student of electrical engineering, 66; 
sent to the front, 67; in American Squad 
of the Premier Elranger, 68; wounded, 
85; decorated with Croix de Guerre, 86; 
cited in Army Orders, 86; invalided out 
of the Legion, 256; enlists in the Avia- 
tion, 256; career in Air Service, 300, 301 ; 
death, 348 

Scanlon, Bob, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; boxer, 10, 113; wounded, 168; 
after the War, 351 

Scotch Guard, 14 

Sebastopol, the Foreign Legion at, 16 

Second Foreign Regiment, Second March- 
ing Regiment (Battalion C), entrains for 
the front, 21, 22; arrives at Camp de 
Mailly, 22; march of, to the trenches, 
25-37; in the trenches (the first winter), 
38-60; at the end of the first winter, 57; 
transferred to Reims sector, 1 01; afflicted 
with battalion of Russian Jews and po- 
litical exiles, 102; battle-flag presented 
to, 107; in Champagne battle, 108-28; 
cited in Army Orders, 122; flag of, decor- 
ated with Croix de Guerre, 123; merged 
in one regiment with the Premier 
Etranger, 134. See also Foreign Legion 

Sedgwick, Ellery, 127, 128 

Sedley, Adjudant, death, 77 

Seeger, Alan, leaves Paris for Rouen, 8, 9; 
writer, 9; as student, 1 1 ; claims to have 
been in Mexican Army, 19; gets lice, 24; 
disappointment at failure to receive pro- 
motion, 24; of the Ninth Squad, 31, 57; 
at Fismes, 34; his diary account of 
Christmas, 45; in occurrences at chateau 
of Craonnelle, 47, 48; his account of 

German yell, 49; accused by Morlae of 
communicating with the enemy, 59; re- 
ferences to, 101, 127, 131, 234; in the 
Champagne battle, 112; writes of transfer 
of Legionnaires, 131; in hospital, 136; 
writes poem for Memorial Day, 137, 138; 
in Somme battle, 172, 176; death, 180- 
83, 325; Croix de Guerre and citation be- 
stowed posthumously upon, 185; grave 
of, 216; Medaille Militaire awarded post- 
humously to, 347; poems of, on monu- 
ment to volunteers, 354 

Sherrill, Charles H., United States Minis- 
ter at Buenos Aires, 51 

Sillac, J. de, 163 

Sillery, 101 

Smith, Capt. John, 90 
Smith, John. See Fike, John Earl 
Solferino, the Foreign Legion in the battle 
of, 16 

Somme front, the, 171-84, 200, 203-08, 
216-22; Escadrille Lafayette in the, 248- 

Somme-Py, 318 

Sorenson, from Danish West Indies, joins 
the Foreign Legion, 264; decorated with 
the Croix de Guerre, 264 

Sorny, 336-38 

Sotiropoulos, Lt., killed in action, 179 
Souain, 130, 318 

Soubiran, Robert, sails to enlist under 
French colors, 6; sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; expert mechanic and driver of 
racing automobiles, 11 ; runs threshing- 
machine, 58; in Champagne battle, 113; 
transfers to One Hundred and Seventi- 
eth Regiment, 159; wounded, 160, 161; 
transferred to the Aviation, 188; joins 
Escadrille, 200; American flag entrusted 
to, 266; captain in United States Air 
Service, 297; commanding officer of Pur- 
suit Company, 297; honors conferred 
upon, 297; after the War, 351 

Souchez, 81, 88 

Soudan, the Foreign Legion in the, 17 

Soupe corvee, 39 
South Americans, 96 
Souville Fort, 170 

Steinfels, Michael, joins the Foreign Le- 



gion, 93; transfers to One Hundred and 
Seventieth Regiment, 159; breaks arm, 
161 ; invalided out of the Army, 166 
StetofF, revolutionary writer, killed in ac- 
tion, 102 

Stone, Edward Mandell, sent to Rouen 
training camp, 9; in U.S. Diplomatic 
Service, 1 1 ; in machine-gun company, 
35; killed in action, 50, 51; his career, 
51; posthumously cited in the Order of 
the Army, 51; letters of, 51-53; words of 
'Harvard Graduates' Magazine* and 
'Harvard Crimson' on, 53; member of 
college club, 100; Medaille Militaire 
awarded posthumously to, 347; cere- 
mony held by 'Trench and Air' in mem- 
ory °f, 353 

Sukuna, S. L. V., Fiji Island Prince, 105, 
106; killed in action, 1 18 

Suzanne, 204 

Sweeny, Charles, instructs American vol- 
unteers, 7; sent to Rouen training camp, 
9; made corporal, 24; colonel's cyclist, 
35; made sergeant, 59; promoted sous- 
lieutenant, 101; in Champagne battle, 
113; decorated, 113; citation in Army 
Orders, 113; enlists in United States 
Army, 260; promoted lieutenant-colonel, 
260; after the War, 349 

Swiss Guard, 14 

Sznynski, Ladislas, killed, 72 

Tadoskoff, anarchist, killed in action, 102 
Tahure, 112 
'Tanks,' French, 247 
Taras, Spanish volunteer, 71 
Taylor, Mrs. James B., 90 
Terapegui Blockhouse, defence of, 15 
Terisien, sergeant, and Pasqualaggi, 32; 
his section, 35, 40; in Champagne battle, 


Thakombau, King, 105 

Thaw, William, signs appeal to Americans 
in France, 4; sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; as student, 11; shares funds 
with comrades, 19; claims to have been 
in Mexican Army, 19; made first-class 
private, 24; on the way to Verzy, 27; of 
the Ninth Squad, 31; enters the Avia- 


tion, 43, 44, 110; member of Alpha 
Delta Phi, 100; reference to, 106, 107; 
an original member of the Escadrilie 
Americaine, 187; wins Croix dt Guerre 
and two citations, 187; at Verdun, 190; 
wounded, 190; decorated with Legion of 
Honor, 190; citation, 190; receives Croix 
de Guerre with palm, 190; returns to 
front, 195; wins fourth citation in Army 
Orders, 293; in command of Air Service, 
297; honors bestowed upon, 297-99; 
after the War, 351 

Theissen, bugler, killed in action, 77 

Thdnault, Capt., 195, 254 

Theodokis, killed, 76 

Thiebault, Col., 94 

Third Foreign Regiment, inherits flag and 
traditions of the Regiment de Marc he, 

Third Marching Regiment, composition 
of, 92-94; leaves for Somme front, 94; 
unites with the Premier Etranger, 103. 
See also Premier Stranger 
Thorin, Daniel William, at La Valbonne, 
119, 142, 149, 153, 154; killed in action, 
119; career of, 149—53; mentioned, 176; 
in sanatorium, 215, 314; invalided out of 
the Legion, 265; returns to United 
States, 265; death and funeral, 315 
Tilloloy, 221 
Tincques, 81 
Tixier, Adjudant, 87 
Tonkin, the Foreign Legion in, 17 
Toulouse, training camp for foreign volun- 
teers at, 8, 12 
Toulouse battalion. See Second Foreign 

Towle, Bertrand, sent to Rouen training 

camp, 9; returns to America, 58 
Towle, Ellingwood, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; discharged as medically unfit 
for service at the front, 21 
Training camps, for foreign volunteers, 

Tranchees des Vaches, Les, 41 
'Trench and Air Association of American 
Volunteer Combatants in the French 
•Army, 1914-1918,' 353 
Trench warfare, 38-60, 62, 68, 94 


Trenches, Buzantium, Dardanelles, and 
Prince Eitel, 227; Posnanie, Bayreuth, 
Labyrinth of Auberine, 228 

Trinkard, Charles, sails to enlist under 
French colors, 6; sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; jeweller's engraver, 10; refer- 
ence to, 38; wounded, 119; at La Val- 
bonne, 142; in fight at La Valbonne, 153; 
still in Legion in winter of 1916-17, 220; 
signalman, 220; learns to fly, 256; death, 
285, 286 

Tscharner, Capt. de, his account of the 
Somme battle, 182, 183 

United States, flag of, carried by the Le- 
gion, 8, 22, 25, 56; entry into the War, 
223, 257; refuses services of members of 
the Foreign Legion, 258, 259; flag of, 
presented to French Army, 266-69; 
members of Foreign Legion finally ac- 
cepted by, 288-90; American Legion- 
naires transferred to Army of, 292 

United States Air Service, 296-306; Esca- 
drille Lafayette taken over by, 296, 297; 
One Hundred and Third Aero Squadron, 

Vacareano, killed, 77 
Vadelincourt, 278 
Vailly, 43 

Van Mengen, Corp., killed, 76 

Van Vorst, Rupert, sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; his education, 11; doctor's as- 
sistant, 35; his Christmas ham, 44, 45; 
his account of death of E. M. Stone, 50; 
returns to America and liberated from 
further service with the Legion, 58 

Vandamne, Sergeant Ferdinand, killed in 
action, 122 

Vaudesincourt, 228, 229 

Vaudesson, 309 

Vaux, 163-66, 170 

Vauxbuin, 328 

Vauxillon, 337 

Vengoechea, Hernando de, killed, 77 
Verdun, German attack on, 163-70; the 

Escadrille Americaine at, 189-95; French 

attack at (1917) 270-79 
Vertepoff, sculptor, killed in action, 102 

Vertus, 26 

Verzenay, 29-31, 33, 67 
Verzy, 27, 28 

Vesconsoledose, Portuguese, 96 
Vesle, the, 28, 30, 34 
Villers-Bretonneux, 172, 184, 323, 325 
Villers-Cotterets, 327, 329, 331, 332 
Vimy Ridge, 88 

Volunteers, foreign, received in 'marching 
regiments' of the Foreign Legion, 6-8; 
training camps for, 8; at Rouen, trans- 
ferred to Toulouse, 12; barracks life of, 
12, 13; in training, 18-21; entrain for the 
front, 22; at the end of the War, 345; 
monument to, 354. See also American 
volunteers; Foreign Legion 

Vosges Mountains, 103, 310 

Waddell, Commandant James, 178, 179 
Walker, Henry, joins the Foreign Legion, 
93; in Champagne battle, 120; decor- 
ated, 146; cited in Army Orders, 146; in- 
valided out of Army, 146; after the War, 

Watson, Arthur C, joins the Foreign Le- 
gion, 264; after the War, 350 

Watson, Dr. Samuel, at presentation of 
American flag to French army, 267, 

Weeks, Alice, 80, 152 

Weeks, Kenneth, of the Foreign Legion, 
61, 62; letters home, 61; in American 
Squad of the Premier Etranger, 68; refer- 
ences to, 80, 131 ; in battle of June 16, 
191 5, 84; killed in action, 85, 88; posthu- 
mously awarded Croix de Guerre, 88; 
cited in Army Orders, 88; career of, 89; 
anecdotes of, 89; member of Delta 
Kappa Epsilon, 100; Medaille Militaire 
awarded posthumously to, 347 

Weidemann, Corp., of the Ninth Squad, 
3 I- 33> 39! death, 47-49; his opinion of 
the volunteers, 54 

Wetterstrom, Capt., Danish officer, killed 
in battle, 86 

Wheeler, Dr. David E., joins the Foreign 
Legion, 98, 100; member of Kappa 
Alpha, 100; and Elkington, 106, 118, 
119, 125; decorated with Croix de Guerre, 


123; invalided out of service, 146; ex- 
perience with American Consulate, 147; 
attached to Canadian regiment, 1 47; 
joins United States Army, 313; death, 
3 I 3>3H 

Whidby, Robert, joins the Foreign Legion, 
144; in Somme battle, 172, 176; dis- 
missed from the Legion, 219 

Whitmore, Charles, 236 

Whitmore, Frank E., joins the Foreign 
Legion, 93; wounded, 98, 120; at La Val- 
bonne, 142; in Somme battle, 172, 174; 
receives Croix de Guerre, 185; cited, 185; 
still in Legion in winter of 191 6—17, 220; 
wounded, 226; death, 232; cited in Army 
Orders, 232; tributes to, 234-36; career 
of, 236; Medaille Militaire awarded 
posthumously to, 347 

Willis, Harold B., transfers to Flying 
Corps, 188 

Wood worth, Benjamin, death, 295 

Wright, Milton, enlists in Foreign Legion, 
213, 214; discharged, 214 

Zannis,- in American Squad of the Premier 
Etranger, 68; wounded, 82, 281 

Zinn, Frederick W., sent to Rouen training 
camp, 9; his education, 11 ; called upon 
to protect German prisoners, 20; at 
Camp de Mailly, 23; at Verzy, 28; 
kitchen helper, 39; references to, 42, 101, 
I45; in occurrences at Chateau of Craon- 
nelle, 49; in military hospital, 58, 59; in 
Champagne battle, 113; wounded, i:-:>, 
at La Valbonne, 142; changed to the 
Aviation, 188, 200; visits old comrades 
at Crevecceur, 219-21; decorated with 
Croix de Guerre with citation, 294; pro- 
moted sergeant, 294; receives second 
citation, 294; in United States Air Ser- 
vice, 299; promoted major, 299; head of 
American Mission for locating graves of 
American aviators who fell in foreign 
territory, 299; after the War, 351, 352 

Zouave Wood, 63 

Zouaves, 33, 62 

Zweibriicken, 344 



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